The Meanings of Marital Equality

By Scott R. Harris

Subjects: Sociology
Series: SUNY series in the Philosophy of the Social Sciences
Paperback : 9780791466223, 209 pages, January 2006
Hardcover : 9780791466216, 209 pages, January 2006

Table of contents


1. Equality as a Social Construction
            Traditional and Interactionist Approaches to Studying Equality
            Symbolic Interactionism and Equality
            Phenomenology and Equality
            Ethnomethodology and Equality
            Dewey on Morality, Equality, and Social Reform 

2. Quantitative Research on Marital Equality: Inter-Researcher Discontinuity and Researcher-Subject Divergence
            Four Traditions of Quantitative Research
            Critiquing the Literature: Discontinuity and Divergence 

3. Qualitative Research on Marital Equality: Naturalist and Constructionist Approaches
            Naturalism, Social Constructionism, and Narrative Analysis
            Naturalist Studies of Marital Equality 
            Constructionism and Marital Equality

4. Narrating Marital Equality: Familiar Domains of Relevance
            Acquiring Data
            The Domain of Power 
            The Domain of the Division of Labor 
            The Domain of Love

5. Narrating Marital Equality: Unfamiliar Domains of Relevance

6. The Implications of Constructionism
            Summarizing Collins, Chang, and Schwalbe et al.
            Comparison and Critique


An ethnographic study of marital equality.


Scott R. Harris develops an interactionist, interpretive approach to studying equality in social life by synthesizing the theoretical perspectives of four founding figures in interactionist, social constructivist thought—Herbert Blumer, Alfred Schutz, Harold Garfinkel, and John Dewey. He focuses on equality in marriage by examining the stories people tell about their equal and unequal marriages, and compares those tales to what researchers have had to say on the subject. Challenging conventional understandings of equality, Harris demonstrates that social scientists in general tend to impose interpretations of inequality onto their respondents' lives, rather than respecting and studying the meanings that people live by.

Scott R. Harris is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Saint Louis University.