Gender, Childhood, and Work in the Nation

Geetha B. Nambissan and S. Srinivasa Rao

in Sociology of Education in India

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780198082866
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199082254 | DOI:
Gender, Childhood, and Work in the Nation

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This chapter investigates the connections between gender, childhood, and work, using ethnographic data from a primary school (with students from nearby slums) in the city of Baroda in Gujarat, India. It examines the influence of the subjective social experiences of students and teachers in the development of official knowledge about work roles, citizenship, and the nation state. The author presents an analysis of classroom interactions which revealed an overwhelmingly stereotyped response of the children (and teachers) who believe that a strong nation is one in which women and men consensually perform their ‘natural’ productive roles in the economy, and who strengthen their capabilities through hard work. Implicit to this understanding was a certain hierarchization of work, based on gender, class, and caste; as well as emphasis on success in education as a precursor to achieving success in the ‘right’ occupations. The author points out that care should be taken that class lessons/interactions should not delimit (by class and caste hierarchies and gender stereotypes) the range of occupations available to learners. To deny the emancipatory promise of education to poor children in a stratified society is to also deny the possibility of individual children possessing agency to struggle against social barriers to ‘achieve success’ through education.

Keywords: gender roles; work and gender; work stereotypes; delimiting options; childhood and work; primary school learning; education and emancipation; Baroda; work and citizenship; classroom interactions

Chapter.  9720 words. 

Subjects: Sociology

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