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Durham University

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The relationship between sex and gender in four societies: A pilot study to assess the structure of sex/gender relationships using Q-methodology.

A research project of the Department of Anthropology, part of the Social Anthropology, old and Medical Anthropology research groups.


This pilot study comes out of an interest in the relationship between biological variation and sociological categories of sex and gender. We seek to conduct a cross cultural study of the construction and enactment of gender practices, beliefs, values and categories across different cultures and among different communities within those cultural areas. This is a pilot project primarily designed to develop the necessary research tools to be used in subseqent studies.


The project aims to investigate the relationship between sex and gender in four societies, using mixed qualitative/quantitative methods (Q sort). This will involve engagement with marginalised trans (in the US and UK), intersex and ‘third gendered’ (hijra/khusra in South Asia) communities as well as with cis-gendered individuals. We aim to deploy Q-methodology to reveal underlying structure in the relationship(s) between sex and gender.


Q-sort materials:

A Q sort is a mixed-method analysis of the ranked order in which participants place a series of items (statements/descriptors) during a card sorting task. Analysis of multiple sorts (using factor analysis) allows similarities between participants to be abstracted into representative "points of view", while thorough interview with participants bases interpretation of the factors on qualitative data. The Q method bridges both qualitative and quantitative methods, and allows for the analysis of subjective opinion while minimising the impact of the researcher's own frame of reference. Items for the sorting task, which are printed on cards, are usually obtained via thematic analysis from interviews and focus groups and from the relevant academic literature.


From the Department of Anthropology

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