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"That Mystic Device Only Women Can Use" - Ascribing Gender to Domestic Technologies

Inari Anna Aaltojärvi

Abstract


In a world full of technologies, it is important to examine how these material objects become a part of our everyday lives. This article addresses the issue of gender and material culture by contemplating how the social category of gender is employed when giving meanings to domestic technologies. More precisely, it asks what kind of gendered identities people ascribe to domestic technologies and how these gender divisions are constituted. First, I introduce the theoretical concepts of technology, gender, script, and material culture, which are followed by a description of the data consisting of an Internet survey of 405 respondents. The analytical section begins with an overview of quantitative statistics. Subsequently, I analyse how people ascribe gender to technical objects and how these meanings are constructed with three types of thematic discourses: expertise, appearance and sound, and routine activities. It will be deduced that gender is not enough to fully understand domestic appliances as age and other social aspects intersect with gender. Further, no gadget is given gendered meaning in isolation but it is understood in a wider and evolving context of other technologies and surrounding culture.


Keywords


domestic technology, material culture, gender, script

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