Doing Gender

the concept of the Doing Gender goes in particular on Candace west and Don H. Zimmerman back. With the emphasizing of “doing”/“making” sex the everyday (and mostly also scientific) understanding is criticized more given of sex as biological or psychologically always “fact”. Thus we e.g. explain ourselves. the behavior of humans often, by designating their sex simply as a cause: 'Men (and/or. Women) are stop like that ". This is most simplifying and becomes not fair the complexity of acting, by not implementing like machines internal programs.

In their fundamental essay „Doing Gender “(1987) understand the authoresses therefore the sex not as natural or acquired person characteristic, which settles only in thinking, feeling and acting a sex specific identity, but stress the active ago and representation of the sex in the everyday life. Therefore one does not have to be “sex” thus simply by nature or only by the education and Sozialisation and “must” therefore always sex-typically behave, but this behavior is above all oriented over it at the knowledge how one has to behave as “man” or a “woman”. It is an active achievement and bringing of a behavior out, which an observer can interpret as “male” or “female” behavior. The authoresses understand the sex thus (following the Ethnomethodologie) as social construction and a characteristic of social situations instead of of persons.

In order to seize the social construction of sex analytically, the authoresses differentiate (see. West/Zimmerman 1987: 131ff.) between the birth classification (Sex), the social allocation/writing up of the sex (Sex Category) as well as inter+subjective validating of the sex category during interaction processes (Gender). Special meaning is attached to that “inter+subjective validating”: Everyday processes are meant, during which we represent our sex socially and us the sex of others insure (e.g. in the many rituals, the maleness and/or. Femaleness produce). Sex (Gender) is in such a way seen to adequate behavior constant ‚doing' of the sex category (Sex Category): „virtually any activity CAN assessed as tons its womanly or manly nature […], tons of' DO' towards that […] is ton engage risk OF towards that in behavior RK assessment” (ebd.: 136).

The authoresses do not know ‚the other world of' this sex construction, i.e. “its behavior always represents man” or “woman” as the behavior of a man or a woman adequate in our culture: „Doing Gender is unavoidable “(ebd.: 137). The processes of the Doing Gender are secured by a multiplicity of institutional arrangements, those by relatively vague action expectations (conceptions over typical “man/woman its”) to concrete Interaktionsskripte (everyday life rituals like e.g. the rules of the “politeness”) the social category ‚sex' in the everyday life keep present (see. also Gildemeister 2004, Gildemeister/Wetterer 1992). There is thus a background knowledge to the sex difference and to important differences, that is always updated and reproduced by acting. The sex we understand however in our everyday life logic (and mostly also in the scientific) not as product of this relationship between acting and knowing, but as “always naturally given” or “once in the education acquired”.

The unavoidableness of a constant sex construction, thus the acceptance of a continuous ago and representation of the sex in any interactions, on the one hand of the authoresses relates later (see. West/Zimmerman 1995). The Doing Gender can therefore withdraw behind “doing” other associatednesses (ex.s. behind a Doing Race and/or. Ethnicity). On the other hand the concept of the Doing Gender was more in principle criticized, by proceeding also from forgetting and neutralizing the sex difference (Undoing Gender).


  • Regine Gildemeister, Angelika Wetterer: As sexes to be made. The social construction of the two-sexualness and their Reifizierung in the woman research. In: G-A scarce (Hrsg.): Traditions of breaks: Developments toolistic theory. Forum woman Mrs., Kore publishing house, Freiburg/mash gau 1992, S. 201-254
  • Regine Gildemeister: Doing Gender: Social practices of the sex distinction. In: Ruth Becker, Beate Kortendiek (Hrsg.): Manual of the woman and sex research. Theory, methods, experience. Wiesbaden 2004, S. 132-141, ISBN 3810039268
  • Erving Goffman: The arrangement of the sexes. In: H. Garlic (Hrsg.): Interaction and sex. Campus, Frankfurt A.M. 2001, S. 105-158.
  • Suzanne J. Kessler, Wendy McKenna: Gender. On ethnomethodological approach. Wiley, New York 1978, ISBN 0226432068
  • Candace west, Don H. Zimmerman: Doing Gender in: Gender & Society. 1987/1, S. 125-151.
  • Candace west, Don H. Zimmerman: Doing Difference in: Gender & Society. 1995/9, S. 8-37.

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