Into the fire: disaster and the remaking of gender by Shelley Pacholok

By Shelley Pacholok

In August 2003, one of many biggest wildfires in Canadian historical past struck close to Kelowna, British Columbia and the encircling Okanagan Valley, inflicting unparalleled harm. As Shelley Pacholok observes during this cutting edge learn, the turbulence and severe stipulations that within the wake of this catastrophe destabilized an immense zone of social lifestyles - that of gender family.

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Additional info for Into the fire: disaster and the remaking of gender

Example text

Patriarchy Patriarchy is a contested concept, with a variety of meanings and usages in feminist writings. Generally, patriarchy refers to male domination and to the power relationships through which men dominate women (Millett 1969). This binary approach has been criticized by feminists for its inability to account for historical and cross-cultural variations in gender patterns, as well as for ethnic and class differences among women (Walby 1989). Masculinity theorizing points to relationships of domination among men that must also be taken into consideration in any theory of patriarchy (Connell 2005), which I discuss in more detail below.

In this case study, I was interested in the ways in which gender was done and undone in and through interactions. Interviews were best suited to illuminate such interactions: firefighters described their own activities and those of their colleagues and how they interpreted these actions. Firefighters’ stories, then, provided a window into their workplace interactions. Firefighters’ narratives are also situated in social worlds that exist beyond the interview context; actors draw on cultural discourses to explain their actions and make them understandable to others.

Structural firefighters are responsible for extinguishing fires in burning buildings; they mainly use fire engines (which pump water through hoses), ladder trucks, and water tenders (which keep water supplied to the fire engines). Wildland firefighters primarily deal with forest fires. There are two types of wildland firefighting groups in this case study: initial attack crews and unit crews. Three-person initial attack crews are usually the first firefighters on the scene of new, relatively small forest fires.

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