According to Longman, Dictionary of Contemporary English, sociology is defined as the scientific study of societies and the behaviour of people in groups. It also can be synonymic to social science. It uses different methods (empirical investigation, exploratory and constructive research, analysis) to develop and improve the knowledge about human social activity. Frequently, these facts can be used in practice in order to refine people’s life. The science combines two levels – micro level (interaction between people) and macro level that connects different social systems to one. Sociology is a very wide discipline.
Traditionally, it focuses on social spheres including religion, culture and other, later it was broaden to modern spheres (the Internet), medicine. Nowadays, sociology covers as much as such topics: culture, criminality, economics, environment, education, family and childhood, gender, health, internet, knowledge, law, media, military, politics, race and ethnic relations, religion, social networks, urban and rural spaces, work and industry (Sosteric, 2010).
Ann Oakley was born in 1944. nowadays she is a well-known British scientist in sociology. Oakley’s father is Professor Richard Titmuss.
Her mother, Kathleen, was also working in social sphere. Later, she wrote her. She was studying at Somerville College, Oxford University. She received her bachelor degree in 1965. she continued her studies at Bedford College, University of London, Anne has gained a PhD in 1969.
main spheres of her investigations included sociology of medicine and health of women.
Ann Oakley’s contributions include lots of academic works, most of them touch upon women’s place in life. There are also lots of novels, one of the most popular is The Men’s Room. She has also written her own biography, however it is not full for now.
Main spheres of her interest are numerous. They are childbirth and motherhood, family, feminism, housework, imagining the future, men, relationships between men and women, sex and gender and social science. In a wide range of books Anne Oakley has proved that the understanding of person’s gender role comes not from biological matter, but from a social one. A person perceives his or her place with communication and interaction with others. The same is with the children. They are given their gender basis from childhood.
Oakley believes that gender socialization had four central elements: Manipulation – parents are influencing on their children, they can easily encourage or discourage ways of behaving in their children on the basis of their own consideration of good and bad for a male or female child. Canalization – children are persuaded to show more interest to some concrete toys, for example. Adults have their conceptions of toys that are appropriate for a girl and unacceptable for a boy. Verbal appellations – this is the use of language. Parents are usually providing their children with names for toys, pets etc. in this way, children can be stimulated to usage of certain gender. Different activities – Girls are encouraged to participate in indoor activities which are often ‘domestic’ in nature. Boys are encouraged to participate in more outdoor activities (Oakley, 1979).
So, socialisation is a key factor to identifying oneself as a male or female person. Furthermore, roots of this process go back to our childhood. A lot of Anne Oakley’s works were dedicated to women. She was a feminist, so she was struggling for establishment of women’s rights in mainly men’s society.
One of these key moments was discussed in her work ‘Interviewing women: a contradiction in terms’. In this article, Anne Oakley discusses methodological points which she previously highlighted by her research on motherhood. In particular, she describes the gap between textbook advised plans for interviewing and her own experience as an interviewer. Oakley suggests some traditional criteria for interviewing. First, the problem lies in the one-side process.
The interviewing situation implies only an interviewer asking and the person answering. The problem is that the interviewer does not give any information. Oakley shows the absurdity of such situations through a discussion of the questions she usually receives from people during taking an interview. Second, many scientists advise interviewer to be strict and show certain attitude while interviewing. In their opinion, strictness will provide objectiveness in responses.
However it is not so far true. Not feeling comfortable in conversation, a respondent will not say true and sincere things. Third, sometimes interviewers are seen as having no personal opinion. They are confining everything only by means of statistics and other social data obtained from people. This will not help in taking an interview, as a respondent needs to have an interlocutor to reveal his or her thoughts, but not an emotionless robot that is just asking questions one after another. (Oakley, 2010) This experience of such problems Anne is applying on feminist interviewers. In order to get helpful data, an interviewer should consider everything mentioned above.
‘When I say I’m a feminist what do I mean? I mean that I believe that women are an oppressed social group, a group of people sharing a common exclusion from full participation in certain key social institutions (and being over-represented in others). Women in Britain in the 1980s are still subject to the awful soul-destroying tyranny of being told the meaning of their lives by others in terms which are not theirs.’(Oakley, 1984) this is a citation connected with Oakley’s studies on feminism. She points out that women have no rights and they have a duty to establish them. Positions in government were bothering her a lot. In her next work, she writes: ‘The state is a masculine institution: men hold most of the top positions in government and its associated agencies…’(Oakley, 2003) She was arguing with the fact that women have no possibility to obtain higher positions in society. In conclusion, Anne Oakley has made a great benefit in the development of social science.
Her works are dedicated to such burning issues as feminism, child upbringing, education and other maternity problems. She touches upon men’s nature of the world. Her works are of great importance to further generations.
List of References
Oakley, A. ‘Interviewing Women: a Contradiction In Terms’ Doing feminist research, Roberts H. Available from:
Oakley, A. 1979 ‘Becoming a Mother’, Oxford: Martin Robertson. Oakley, A. 1984 ‘Taking it Like a Woman’, London: Jonathan Cape.
Oakley, A. 2003 ‘Gender on Planet Earth’, Cambridge: Polity Press (New York: The New Press) 15 May (2). Sosteric, M., Brasted, M. and Scheff, J. T.
‘The Socjournal’, A New Media Journal of Sociology and Society Retrieved from: < http://www.sociology.org/author/mikes/ > [Accessed 05 May 2010]