American Sociological Association

The High-hanging Fruit of the Gender Revolution: A Model of Social Reproduction and Social Change

This article proposes an abstract sociological model of stable patriarchal social relations and feminist social change. I describe a patriarchal equilibrium of gender inequality and propose an approach for thinking about how various kinds of interventions can short-circuit the system, pushing it onto a new equilibrium path. In particular, I focus on possible interventions into parental leave policy, describing their social structural and cultural ramifications as well as a range of objections to them. However, more important than the specific interventions proposed is the general model itself, which depicts reinforcing structures of patriarchal culture, gender inequality in labor markets, and gender inequality in the home—and moreover, how this model can evolve. It describes a feedback loop that can lock structures of gender inequality in place but also provides a means for considering the spaces available to both blunt the social reproduction of gender inequality and reinforce “genderless” social relations.


David Calnitsky





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