Social Scientist. v 17, no. 196-97 (Sept-Oct 1989) p. 100.

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Issues in Women's Education

Karuna Chanana (Ed.), Socialisation, Education and Women:

Explorations in Gender Identity (Nehru Memorial Library), Orient Longmans, 1988, pp. 320.

As the title suggests this volume of essays attempts to go beyond the descriptive analysis to be found in most studies dealing with women's education based on macro data. The important concern of the sociologist here fe however to identify the role of socialisation in female access to enrolment and dropping out of the formal educational system, despite the positive approach to women's education in the post-independence period. The gap between boys and girls and men and women continues to exist. Thus socialisation is thematically introduced as an interactive concept to attempt an explanation of the miserable scenario of women in education. As a first step the concept of education is broadened and extended to include socialisation which emphasizes the gender connotations, in seeking the linkages between data, objective factors and subjective self-assessment. The framework that emerges is predominantly feminist, often radical.

Socialisation is conceptually grasped as 'the process of construction of a woman's reality in the home' is pivotal in determining self-perception and value internalisation to determine attitudes to both education and work. Socialisation therefore plays an important role in cognising the 'significant others' to emerge with the dichotomous male and female roles. Such a social consciousness consistently and continuously begins to de-limit choices for girls and women in education and work. Thus socialisation may be seen as a world view which divides 'us' and the significant others' into mutually exclusive spheres, the realm of men and the realm of women. The studies in this volume 'deconstruct' the reality of women, in the family and in society and pose questions relating to self-perception, identity and role, social perceptions and the role of education as a catalyst in undermining and even changing the false consciousness that is the result of tradition and modernity being at loggerheads as far as the status of women in our society is concerned. In posing the question what does education do to women and for women, we have to study closely the value orientation of society which can emerge through prevalent attitudes to women's education and work.

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