Steven Tepper, Fiction Reading in America, Poetics
The gender gap in fiction reading has been largely ignored by sociologists and scholars in the field of reading research. This paper investigates three primary explanations for why more women read fiction than men, including: the influence of childhood socialization and gender role stereotypes, differences in cognition and prose literacy and differences in work status and available free time. Data analysis using two. large-scale national surveys reveals that notions of gender-appropriate leisure and their influence on childhood socialization explain much of the gap in fiction reading. On the other hand, differences in reading skills and free time, as measured by work-status, seem to contribute very little to our understanding of the gap. The paper concludes by suggesting that better measures of socialization, additional information about what types of books men and women read, and more detailed time-use studies would give us additional leverage on this puzzle.
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