Harriet Martineau and Gender Conflict Theory

Summary of Video #8 of Crash Course Sociology.

Harriet Martineau was the first female sociologist. Her work was one starting point from which the waves of feminism unfolded:

  1. Women’s rights movement focusing on legal inequalities;
  2. Female participation in the labour force, equal pay, reproductive rights, sexual violence, education inequality, and divorce, arising from the idea that gender has societal origins.
  3. Broadening the definition of feminism to encompass issues of race, class, sexuality and other forms of disadvantage.


  • Feminism. The support for social equality among genders. Feminist theory is one school of thought in the study of gender.
  • Sex. The biological distinction between females, males and intersex individuals.
  • Gender. The personality traits and social roles that society attaches to different sexes. Gender roles change among societies and over time.
  • Intersectionality. The analysis of how race, class and gender interact to create systems of disadvantage that are interdependent.

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