Muted Group Theory is a critical theory because it is concerned with power and how it is used against people. While critical theories can separate the powerful and the powerless any number of ways, this theory chooses to bifurcate the power spectrum into men and women.
Muted Group Theory begins with the premise that language is culture bound, and because men have more power than women, men have more influence over the language, resulting in language with a male-bias. Men create the words and meaning for the culture, allowing expression of their ideas. Women, on the other hand, are left out of this meaning creation and left without a means to express that which is unique to them. That leaves women as a muted group.
The Muted Group Theory rests on three assumptions:
The premise and assumptions leads to a number of hypotheses about women's communication:
Muted Group Theory does not claim that these differences are based in biology. Instead, the theory claims that men risk losing their dominant position if they listen to women, incorporate their experiences in the language, and allow women to be equal partners in language use and creation. Language is about power, and men have it.
Kramarae, C. (1981). Women and men speaking: Frameworks for analysis, 1-63. Rowley, MA: Newbury House.
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