2016 southern sociological society presidential address: Are millennials cracking the gender structure?
PublisherSAGE Publications Inc.
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In this article, which grew from my presidential address at the 2016 Southern Sociological Society Meetings, I offer a revision of my theoretical argument that we should conceptualize gender as a social structure. This revision includes a differentiation between the material and the cultural dimension at each level of the gender structure. I then briefly present some empirical evidence from a study of American Millennials to illustrate the usefulness of the revision. The research presented helps us understand how today’s young adults are adapting to, and perhaps changing, the gender structure itself. The data are based on interviews with 116 young adults, age 18 to 30, from the Chicagoland area. The findings suggest that some Millennials are rejecting gender as a binary while others are embracing essentialist ideologies. Most of the sample tell stories that are full of contradictions between their identities, the expectations they face, and their worldviews. I conclude with some implications of the research for both social change and academic research. © The Southern Sociological Society 2016.