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You are here Postgraduate > MSc in Comparative Social Change > Course Structure and Handbook

Gender and Social Change in a Comparative Context

Module Code: SO7040

  • ECTS Credit : 10
  • Mandatory/ Optional : Optional
  • Module Coordinator : Dr Peter Muhlau, Department of Sociology, Trinity

Module Description:

Over the last century or so, gender relations have become much more egalitarian at least in Western advanced industrial societies. However, this ‘gender revolution’ has been characterised as ‘uneven and stalled’, ‘peaked’ and perhaps already in reverse gear, and anyway as ‘incomplete’. This module introduces students into the gendering of market and family work and the resulting inequalities. It provides a description of the division of labour between women and men and how it has changed using historical and cross-national data. It aims to analyse the underlying causes of the momentum and inertia of the ‘gender revolution’ through the lens of theoretical-empirical sociology. The module starts with looking at differences between men and women and whether these differences can explain the division of labour in historical and contemporary societies. It examines the relationship between ecology, technology and the gendering of work and the role of family and household formation .It traces the evolution of female labour market participation and of the vertical and horizontal pattern of segregation of men and women.  Particular emphasis is put on the organisation and division of family work, an area which is considered to be particularly resistant to change with important re-percussions for the sphere of market work.

Learning Outcomes:

On successful completion of the module students should be able to:

  • Describe variations of gender relations over time and across cultures;
  • Analyse the potential causes of the historical and cross-cultural variations; and there interplay;
  • Critically assess the empirical evidence for the proposed patterns of gender relations and causal associations.

Lectures & Tutorials/ Contact hours:

  • Module Length: 11 weeks (Hilary Term)
  • Workload: Readings: 70hrs; Formative assessment (e.g. practice-based activities): 30hrs; Summative assessment (e.g. essays, journals): 100hrs. Total: 200 hours

Recommended Texts

Key Reading:

  • Alesina, A., Giuliano, P. and Nunn, N. (2013) ‘On the origins of gender roles: Women and the plough’, The Quarterly Journal of Economics 128(2): 469-530.
  • Blau, F.D., M.C. Brinton and Grusky, D.B. (eds) (2006) The Declining Significance of Gender? Russell Sage Foundation.
  • Charles, M. and Grusky, D.B.  (2004) Occupational Ghettos: The worldwide segregation of women and men. Stanford University Press.
  • De Moor, T. and Van Zanden, J.L. (2010) ‘Girl power: the European marriage pattern and labour markets in the North Sea region in the late medieval and early modern period’, The Economic History Review, 63(1): 1-33.
  • England, P. (2010) ‘The gender revolution: Uneven and stalled’, Gender & Society 24(2): 149-166.
  • Goldin, C. (2006) The quiet revolution that transformed women's employment, education, and family (No. w11953). National Bureau of Economic Research.
  • Olivetti, C. and Petrongolo, B. (2016) ‘The evolution of gender gaps in industrialized countries’, Annual Review of Economics 8: 405-434.
  • Treas, J. and Drobnič, S. (eds) (2010) Dividing the Domestic: Men, women, and Household Work in Cross-national Perspective, Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  • Whyte, M.K. (2015) The Status of Women in Preindustrial Societies, Princeton: Princeton University Press. Wood, W. and Eagly, A.H. (2012)’ Biosocial Construction of Sex Differences and Similarities in Behavior’, Advances in Experimental Social Psychology 46(1): .55-123.


  • 3,000 word essay: 80%
  • Group Presentation: 20%