Books and Movies Reviews

Gender Play: A Great Achievement in Analysis of the Social Constructs of Gender Among Elementary School Students

Gender Play is a book that deals with a common theme throughout sociological literature in an attempt to create a new perspective of gender as it relates to children.Barrie Thorne, a professor of sociology at the University of Southern California who is well known for her involvement in gender studies, observed elementary school children in several schools in America during the 1970s and 1980s, taking notes on how gender appears to affect the culture of the students and the way they interact with each other.Intended to be read by educators and parents, Thorne combines school observations in the classroom and on the playground with her own recollections of childhood, stories shared by college-age students about their childhoods, and empirical research spanning several decades.Gender Play is loosely organized around the dictionary definitions of the word play, from the obvious reference to children's gender-influenced interactions during games to the idea of children using dramatic performance to understand gender relations.Thorne's work is a required text in many sociology and gender studies classes because of the apparent importance of her findings on gender, particularly her theories on the creation of gender borders and how children may cross these borders.However, while Thorne's observations may have been pertinent in the 1970s or 1980s, by thefirst publication of this book in 1993 her ideas were hardly groundbreaking, and today it is difficult to peruse the text of Gender Play without questioning the bias of Thorne's work and complete lack of regard for the academic Queer Theory perspective.
Thorne performed field research in 1976-77 in a public elementary school in a small city on the coast of California, and in 1980 in a public elementary school in a suburb in Michigan.The schools were similar in demographics, being made up largely of working-class families, with around 75% White students, 12-…


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