Narrating gender. A research action to improve consciousness about gender cultures and identities among Italian students

Many centuries ago philosophy identified the fundamental mechanisms underlying the processes of the human identity construction: knowing, knowing yourself, to be recognized. Nowadays, all the sciences dealing with humanity and its cultures (anthropology, psychology, neuro-cognitive disciplines) assumed this relational character of identity processes as a basic postulation.

With its empirical vocation, Sociology tries to come to light the plot of these dynamics “embodied” in the concrete existences of nowadays men and women. Specifically, it is interested in collective identities, in social and cultural dimensions of individual identities, in the impact of the social change on contemporary societies. By using the biographical interview method, sociology often made a contribution to give visibility, voice and dignity to the vulnerable, marginalized or excluded categories.

Women and minorities gender identities are certainly among the most important discriminated categories today in the world. Gender imbalance, gaps and discriminations spread throughout all the regions and cultures, in all the spheres of the private and public live (family, work, education, welfare, media, politics). Moreover, even the gender issues appear a declared priorities in many official statements and programs, the lack of consciousness of their rights is still a big problem for women, as much as the lack of consciousness of their responsibilities is an enormous problem on the side of men.

And, if in the Sixties and in the Seventies the feminist movements and struggles offer to entire generations many places and occasions to discuss and become aware of gender issues, today the situation is tricky. In fact, even in the most advanced nation gender is a contested topic in education, schools and universities do not offer specific courses and training, and many young people grow up without any opportunity to improve their knowledge and consciousness about a so sensitive subject.

In this scenario, our proposal intends to tell the outcome of a multi-year research action made in collaboration with the students of two courses on sociology of culture of the Sapienza University of Rome.

The researchers have collected about 150 autobiographies focused on the gender experience, written by students (gender balanced) from 19 to 25 years old, including about 20 youngsters of second generations or from migrant families. Even it is not a representative sample, the corpus is very significative, because it is a cross-section of young women and men candidates to occupy leading position in the public sphere in the future.

Key words: sociology of culture; gender identity; gender cultures; young; global citizenship; education


Nombre Adscripcion Procedencia
GAIA PERUZZI Sapienza University of Rome Rome (Italy)
RAFFAELE LOMBARDI Sapienza University of Rome Italia