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Census categories and gender construction: the Indian context

Ram B. Bhagat, International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS)

In the process of defining and categorizing population, census is involved in the construction of social categories. Gender construction is not only confined to sex categories of male and female, but is also found among the categories like workers and non-workers, rural and urban, migrant and non-migrant as well. Census provides a wider canvas to look into the process of gender construction that is socially and politico-economically constituted. Further through census, it is possible that categories are standardized and the gender constructs implied in the categories are stereotyped. Census tables do not simply present the demographic matrix, but deeply reflect, constitute, reproduce and perpetuate the social processes. It is also possible that census could be an instrument to construct gender in the hands of competing social and political forces. The paper examines the census categories mentioned above in the construction of gender over the last one-century of census taking in India.

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Presented in Poster Session 3: Poster Session 3