Publication 2493

Merritt M. (2014) Making (non)sense of gender. In: Cappuccio M. & Froese T. (eds.) Enactive cognition at the edge of sense-making: Making sense of non-sense. Palgrave Macmillan, Houndmills: 285–306. Fulltext at
This chapter examines the phenomenon of “nonsensical gender” – that is, cases of breakdown within the domain of gender identity. First, it is argued that gender is a multifaceted system that shapes and subtends cognitive processing. Next, the chapter examines cases of gender breakdown and compares those phenomena with other forms of cognitive breakdown. It is then contended that, while there are some striking similarities among all these failures to “make sense,” a crucial distinction needs to be made: gender interactions, unlike human-tool interactions, are marked by complex intersubjective modes of meaning-making. Thus, in order to “make sense” of gender misidentification, the chapter argues for a more nuanced account of breakdown, one that pays more heed to the interpersonal and intrapersonal dimensions of social sensemaking.


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