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Gender, a cross-cutting theme

Head researchers: Fabrice Guilbaud, Stéphanie Guyon et Sophie Richardot

Members: Ludivine Allienne-Diss, Annabelle Allouch, Bruno Ambroise, Isabelle Astier, Hélène Balitout, Miranda Boldrini, Maïté Boullosa-Joly, Rémy Caveng, Frédéric Charles, Isabelle Charpentier, Charlotte Delabie, Renaud d’Enfert, Virginie Descoutures, Didier Eribon, Nehara Feldman, Estelle, Ferrarese, Bertrand Geay, Fabrice Guilbaud, Stéphanie Guyon, Emmanuel Halais, Céline Hervet, Véronique Hochedé, Céline Husson, Nathalie Le Bouteillec, Elodie Lemaire, Céline Letu, Sophie Louey, Gabrielle Radica, Layla Raid, Ada Reichhart, Sophie Richardot.

Members whose works are related to this reflection:

Gender studies rest on the assumption that sex is not only biological but also, and mostly, the result of a social construction. They do not only study “women”, but also the power relationships between the two sex groups. Then, gender refers to a “Social organization of the relationships between the sexes” (Joan W. Scott) that allocates to each sex a set of differentiated roles, tasks, characteristics and attributes; it also refers to a system of hierarchical bi-categorization between sexes (men/women) and between the values and representation that are associated to them. In other words, gender refers to a system and sexes refer to the groups and categories produced by this system. At the heart of the gender-study approach are the rupture from essentialism (“One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.”), the choice of a relational perspective (feminine and masculine are the product of a social relationship), and the existence of a power relationship, as expressed by the concepts of ‘patriarchy’, of ‘differential valence of the sexes’ or of ‘masculine domination’.

Gender is particularly well suited for a cross-cutting approach as it is not a topic but “A social logics which penetrates society and therefore should penetrate its explanations” (J. Clair). The cross-cutting research on gender thus proposes to unite the research teams of the laboratory and to generate a dialogue between them with this analytical framework. It is not a fourth distinct research theme, but a real cross-cutting one, aimed at creating synergies between research works conducted within the three other CURAPP themes. Twenty laboratory members already take part in this research line, whether their research directly adopts problematisations stemming from gender studies or their works integrate gender in the conception of their subjects. What is at stake here is to broaden the circle of people who use this analytical grid by encouraging more researchers to make use of this perspective to potentially gain a new vision on the problematics that they study.

This research line exists against a specific institutional backdrop: an internal policy intends to foster gender studies at Université de Picardie-Jules Vernes through the action of its office for gender equality. It contributes to a wider project in order to create a gender study inter-laboratory research line. It is also involved in teaching, especially with research seminars on gender proposed to the students of the Human and Social Sciences Doctoral School and to the students of the Research Masters related to the laboratory. It is also in line with a policy of the CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research) which aims at fostering the development of gender studies, especially via the Défi Genre program (Gender Challenge program) directed by the office for interdisciplinarity (since 2012) and the key participation of the CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research) in the Interdisciplinary Gender Institute (a Scientific Interest Group) founded in 2012 on the initiative of the Human and Social Science Institute of the CNRS.

The perspective on gender is definitely interdisciplinary, in conformity with the history of gender studies and with the research conducted in the laboratory. Thus, the researchers who take part in this cross-disciplinary axis are philosophers, sociologists, anthropologists, political scientists and educational scientists. Disciplinary approaches are combined and reflections on the articulation of domination relationships are fostered.

The research works on and with gender started getting structured a few years ago in the laboratory. Hence an annual “Gender” seminar has been organized since 2013. For this event, researchers from other organizations have been invited and have been presented works conducted by laboratory members. Furthermore, two doctoral one-day courses on gender were organized in 2015 by CURAPP-ESS members for the Human and Social Science Doctoral School at UPJV: one of them was entitled “Gender and Social Sciences” and the other one was entitled “Gender and Sexualities”. In 2016, a one-day seminar on “Gender and Care” was also organized at the laboratory. Four main thematic groups - articulated to the three laboratory research themes - emerged from these activities and represent guiding lines for research on and with gender.