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The Social Construction of Gender in Adult-Children Interactions and Narratives at Preschool, Primary and Middle school

TitleThe Social Construction of Gender in Adult-Children Interactions and Narratives at Preschool, Primary and Middle school
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsRossi E
Secondary TitleItalian Journal of Sociology of Education
Date Published07/2019
PublisherPadova University Press
Place PublishedPadova, IT
ISSN Number 2035-4983
Keywordschildren, Gender, interactions, narratives, schools

The social construction of gender beyond categorisations and stereotyped representations in adult-children interactions and narratives, and its interplay with the specific forms displayed by the interactions, is an interesting and new field for scholars, teachers, experts, and parents, increasingly invoked locally, nationally and internationally to reduce and prevent gender inequalities, prejudices, discrimination, and violence. This paper aims to analyse and understand the forms of communication which can be most effective in opposing stereotypes, in challenging narratives of a binary and hierarchical gender order, and in introducing counter-narratives based on a multiple, hybrid, equal and fluid gender order. Data were collected through audio- and video-recording in preschools, primary and middle schools in Northern Italy, during extracurricular activities and workshops proposed by an educator, a teacher, or a trainer for discussions on topics such as toys, sports, jobs, gender differences, etc. The analysis highlighted the ways in which dialogic facilitation can be productive both in bringing out children’s gender stereotypes and in promoting their agency for the co-construction of alternative narratives, but also situations where dialogic facilitation seems to be more ambivalent and to ‘slip into’ an educational form in which the adult’s role and perspective orient or direct children’s learning and thinking.