Conceptualising Gender and Emotion



The question of what distinguishes men and women emotionally and intellectually has been an abiding interest of scholars, journalists, popular writers, and lay people alike in the contemporary West. Although debate about such differences can be traced back to antiquity, this interest has become especially pronounced over the last two hundred years. Natural scientists, social scientists, philosophers, and feminists have all contributed to thinking about gender-based emotional differences, asking such questions as, to what extent and exactly how do men and women differ emotionally? What defines and how can one best account for apparent differences? Should differences be celebrated or denigrated? And, insofar as there are differences, what does this mean for how people live their lives and conduct their relationships? Scholars have developed a diverse body of theory and empirical work on the topic of gender-based emotional difference and, by this means, have shaped wider public discourse about men, women, and emotionality. It is in popular media, such as self-help guides, magazines, news media, and movies, however, that the preoccupation with difference is perhaps most evident. Such media would seem to be a major source for public knowledge about gender and emotion and a significant means for disseminating views on difference.


Gender Identity Emotional Experience Parental Investment Emotional Labour Romantic Love 
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Copyright information

© Alan Petersen 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Sociology, Politics and LawUniversity of PlymouthUK

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