‘Learning masculinities and femininities: power/knowledge and legitimate peripheral participation’

Paechter, Carrie F.. 2003. ‘Learning masculinities and femininities: power/knowledge and legitimate peripheral participation’. Women’s Studies International Forum, 26(6), pp. 541-552. ISSN 0277-5395 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This paper takes up my previous work [Women's Stud. Int. Forum 26 (2003b) 69] considering how masculinities and femininities can be regarded as local communities of practice. In particular, I focus on how the legitimate participation of children in adult communities of masculinity and femininity takes place within gendered power/knowledge relations. My main concern in this paper is the process of legitimation of participation in communities of masculinity and femininity practice. I examine this through a number of examples, including the medical appropriation of the process of gender assignment of intersex babies.

Masculinity and femininity are intimately connected with power/knowledge. One aspect of the hegemonic processes that establish sex differences as important is the naturalization of the development and awareness of differences between males and females as part of early child development. To sustain gendered power/knowledge relations, we require our boys and girls to behave differently from birth and consciously or unconsciously reward them for this. In this paper, I tease out the relationship between power/knowledge, legitimation, and the learning of masculine and feminine roles within communities of practice.

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Educational Studies



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Date Deposited:

28 Jul 2015 15:03

Last Modified:

27 Jun 2017 09:38

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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