CE41 - Inégalités, discriminations, migrations

Before the age of three : gendered socialization within family – sogenre

Submission summary

Our project focuses - with a sociological perspective - on the processes of gendered socialization of children between ages 0 to 3. In a national and international context, where gender inequalities are a subject of disagreement and argument, documenting how gendered socialization is objectively built, at a very early age, appears crucial. Our study thus proposes to expose the processes of transmission of gendered norms and practices within the family circle, through the analysis of child-parent relationships.
Indeed, child-parent relationships raise several issues: which received gendered norms and dispositions do parents (mothers and fathers) hand down to their daughters and sons? How is the parental work of gender socialization deployed on very young children? How do parents cope, in practice, with the more or less explicit injunction to treat girls and boys equally, but also to differentiate between individuals? What are the social variations of such gendered educational practices depending on cultural and/or economic capital and to the parents' social background and trajectory?
Our project aims to examine two main dimensions of gendered socialization: the shaping of the body and the gendered division of parental labor.
The first dimension considers the body as a medium for the inscription of gender norms. This dimension will lead us to describe the preferences and everyday childcare practices of parents in matters of body care, care of bodily appearance, education in motor skills and physical autonomy.
The second dimension examines parenting arrangements that expose very young children to a gendered - or non-gendered - organization of family and social roles. With this dimension, it is the division of parental labor that is considered as a key matrix in the socialization of children to gender.
Both dimensions will be considered according to family configurations and the social positions and trajectories of the parents. The point is to confront an analysis of gender relations, the position occupied in the family (father, mother, daughter, son, birth rank) and that occupied in the social space.
Our approach is thus both contextual and temporal: it aims to detail social variations by following the development of gendered socialization throughout early childhood.
Our research matter is sourced from the French longitudinal study on childhood (ELFE) tracking 18,000 families with a child born in 2011. Our analysis will rely more particularly on four stages of this survey: the answers provided by each parent when the child was 2 months, 1 year, 2 years and 3.5 years old.
The project is further grounded in a longitudinal qualitative survey on parental educational models and family organization, also initiated in 2011. The qualitative survey concerned couples, interviewed in a family context on several occasions, while their child was between ages 0-3 (80 interviews).
This research project will provide the missing sociological knowledge concerning the socialization of preschool children in France by their families. It will shed light on how differences between girls and boys - and subsequent inequalities - are built during the very first years of life through social mechanisms. Levers to fight against the early construction of gender inequalities will therefore be identified.

Project coordination

Olivia Samuel (Laboratoire PRINTEMPS (Professions, Institutions, Temporalités))

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


PRINTEMPS Laboratoire PRINTEMPS (Professions, Institutions, Temporalités)
CRESPPA Centre de Recherches Sociologiques et Politiques de Paris - CRESPPA

Help of the ANR 288,943 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: January 2022 - 48 Months

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