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Komarovsky, Mirra (1905–99)

Vicky M. MacLean


Mirra Komarovsky's research, teaching, and advocacy on behalf of women mark her as a pioneer in the sociology of gender and feminist scholarship. She was the second woman to serve as president of the American Sociological Association, thus furthering opportunities for women in the profession of sociology. Major contributions to sociology include her critique of the Parsonian functionalist perspective on gender roles, research on women's education and changing feminine identities, and the study of men and masculinity. Komarovsky's research focused on the nature of conflict and strains in gender roles during periods of uneven social change. Her 1953 book Women in the Modern World: Their Education and Their Dilemma anticipated Betty Freidan's The Feminine Mystique by more than a decade. Methodological contributions include refining the use of the qualitative case study method using in-depth interviewing and synthesizing sociological schedules and surveys with psychological tests of personality and gender. Born to a Jewish family in Russia in 1905, Komarovsky migrated with her family from Baku to the United States in 1921, fleeing anti-Semitism and Bolshevik attempts to eradicate the middle class. Her childhood education in Russia was primarily from private tutors. In the United States Mirra's family initially settled in Wichita, Kansas where she graduated from Wichita High School. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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