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Karin Staffansson Pauli

Gender theory started with understanding and explaining women’s role in society and now also includes men and masculinities. It has recently been adapted to family business research. This chapter will briefly introduce gender theory and its development, before reviewing how it has been used in family business research. Arguing that the family business context is suitable in studying gender phenomena, the chapter outlines several ways through which gender theory could yield new insights into the issues of how family business structures, settings and practices produce relations of power or asymmetry. A common approach so far to the study of gender in family business situations is to consider ‘gender as a variable’, which maintains the categorisation of women and men as a relevant and unproblematic variable. Many analyses of family businesses that also address gender, focus on feminist ‘standpoint positions’, giving voice to women’s unique experiences. Often in family business research, the dominant approach is to think of gender in terms of limited male/female distinctions rather than by reframing family business through critical positions, with the aim of reflection and sensitivity towards gender issues in terms of the socially constituted patterns that are produced through male/female, masculine/feminine distinctions. In the conclusion, the chapter suggests a possible methodology for capturing gendered processes and proposes how family business research could offer new insights into gender theory. Keywords: gender theory, family business