Thematic guide: gender studies
The study of gender and gender relations has become increasingly significant for
our understanding of society, social structures, social interactions and social
policy. In particular feminist studies have contributed new conceptual and methodological
insights to understanding the formation and continuing problems of gender inequality.
Feminism in the 1960s and 1970s was largely focused on and represented issues of
concern to white, middle-class western women, resulting in an over simplification
of the female experience. Since then its focus has been on the plurality of perspectives
across race, age, class and culture. The studies on gender in ESDS's qualitative
collections have focused on a diverse range of feminist issues such as identity,
health, education, sexuality, domestic violence, politics, and body image. Pahl's
study 'Coping Responses to Marital Violence: a Longitudinal Study of Women Who Sought
Help From a Refuge, 1976-1980' investigated the issues faced by women leaving home
after suffering domestic violence and the role of refuges in assisting women with
Although gender studies have tended to focus on the experiences of women, studies
of men and masculinity have also become increasingly prevalent. In a similar development
to feminist studies, the stereotypical male image has not generally accounted for
the diversity of male experiences and has not taken into consideration changes in
men's traditional roles. These gender biases and stereotypes are frequently reinforced
in the media and are explored in Jackson, Stevenson, and Brooks' study of men's
Searching for related materials
The ESDS catalogue can be searched for data on gender studies using subject terms
- domestic violence
An ESDS qualitative focused search can be carried out at: .
Every data collection is accompanied by comprehensive documentation. These are open
access and available to the public from the website and it is not necessary to be
a registered user to access and download them.
The website offers an insight
into the backgrounds of a group of classic researchers, their motivations for undertaking
particular pieces of research and some interesting observations about studying sociology
in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.
Each of the
interviews includes an account of the major phases of their research work and family
life and the significant influences which have shaped the researcher’s interests.
A number of highly influential women in academia are featured in this collection.
The site enables faceted browsing and can be searched by themes including by ‘gender’,
by ‘women in academia’ and many more.
Other resources on gender studies
- BUBL link Catalogue of Internet Resources:
- LSE Gender Institute:
- E-papers on gender at The University of Leeds
Summary of selected qualitative studies on gender studies
This study investigated the problems faced by women who have to leave home because
of violence and the usefulness of the refuge as a response to the problems of battered
women. The study involved interviewing the women who set up and ran the refuge,
as well as those women staying at the refuge and interviews with them after they
Sample: women running and/or staying at the centre where the study was carried
Data: 92 interviews/observations
- domestic violence
- residential care
This research project looked at beliefs and attitudes to health and medical care,
inter-generational relationships, and social history of members of a grandmother
Sample: women in a Scottish city, who had a child between 1950-1953
Data: 46 interviews
- family life
- gender role
This study investigated the significance of gender as a factor in processes of gentrification,
and explored the interplay between changing gender divisions and urban change.
Sample: consumers and producers of private sector housing in Edinburgh
Data: 57 interviews
- urban development
Jackson, P., Stevenson, N. and Brooks, K.
This study explored the new generation of men's lifestyle magazines, which emerged
since the mid-1980s. The researchers examined the extent to which variations in
the magazines' content and the way they are read by different groups of men can
be explained according to competing sociological theories of masculinity and the
media. This study is also available as a teaching dataset under SN 6964.
Sample: readers and editors of men's magazines
Data: 5 individual interviews; 20 focus groups
- mass media
This study explored the lives and experiences of mothers living alone: unmarried,
separated, divorced or widowed. The study asked about housing conditions, homelessness,
diet and nutrition, family relations, marriage and marital breakdowns, and the levels
and adequacy of community and national assistance. It examined the problems families
faced as a consequence of both low income and the lack of fathers.
Sample: mothers living on their own (or with children only), receiving National
Assistance, in West Yorkshire and Essex during 1965-1966
Data: 116 interviews
- family structure
- sources of income
This research project explored the changes in women’s identities in the process
of becoming mothers for the first time. It gave equal emphasis to the psychological
and social worlds of the mothers and pioneered methods that allow both to be studied
as part of the same questions.
Sample: thirteen first time mothers from Greater London
Data: 35 interviews with 13 first-time mothers
- women's identity
Hockey, J., Robinson. V. and Meah, A.
This study asked how women and men manage and subjectively experience the institution
of heterosexuality. The study used a life course perspective to investigate the
processes which women and men have identified or constituted themselves as 'heterosexual'
in the last 80 years.
Sample: extended families with three generations of adults aged 15+
Data: 54 interviews
- sexual knowledge
- separation and divorce