Kitchen-Table Society

Gullestad, Marianne:

Many studies about women emphasize subordination and power relations between men and women. This book adopts a different approach by focusing on the perspective of the actors themselves. Its aim is to contribute to the current debate by providing a detailed account of how a small group of young mothers occupy themselves in everyday life. Through two years of anthropological fieldwork in the suburbs of Bergen, Norway's second largest city, the author has listened carefully to the conversations of female friends around their kitchen-tables. She examines how the lives of these young women are shaped and what dignity and self-respect means to them.

On the basis of this information the author discusses a whole range of topics related to the following questions, among others:

  • What is the significance of subculture and social class in regard to women?
  • Are women "muted" and "inarticulate"?
  • Do women have a "women?s culture" of their own?
  • What are the new ways in which husbands and wives divide tasks among themselves?
  • How can the rising rate of divorce be explained?

The result of using women instead of men as the central actors in a study offers a new and rather different picture of society. Nevertheless, it remains the same society.

In 1996 this book was chosen as "one of the favorite books of the last 25 years" by the journal Contemporary Sociology, and it has not lost any of its relevance since then.

About the author: Marianne Gullestad is Norway's leading social anthropologist on Norwegian society. At present she is a senior researcher at the Institute for Social Research in Oslo.

Publisher: Scandinavian University Press 1984
ISBN: 82-00-06778-5
329 pages, paperback
Published in English

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