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Muted group theory is a critical theory concerning the certain groups of people who remain powerless compared to the others.

muted group theory

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Edwin Ardener, a British anthropologist, introduced the concept. His noted contributions in anthropology are the studies on gender and found that the studies made by many ethnographers in the society was generalized to the male population and accumulated the finding accepting only one side.

The voices of the women and other unheard have been ignored and muted. The narrow perspective to the society ignoring almost half of the population affected the studies and the muted group theory brought a light into the powers of the marginalized in the society.

Muted Group Theory

The muted group theory explains the cause of muteness by a certain group of population especially of that of women in the society. The theory upholds a gender perspective where the male is the dominant class.

The women live with the attitude where her opinions remain muted when spoken and mostly choose to adapt with the situation. The attitudes of the male who are the bread winners are considered dominant than the women who rely on them. The age old tradition made a whole new power division in the society.

The muted group theory was further studied by Cheris kramarae, a professor in women studies upheld the idea that, communication was started by men and due to that reason they take advantage of women. While speaking, women are considered less powerful than men and the reason behind this is simple psychology. Women’s needs are emotionally driven unlike men. And thus the perspective of women differs from men in all aspects.

John Berger says “the language is the potential holding for whole human experience”.

The quotes give space to think. When a woman comes to social space they are facing the most abusive language because women are considering as a less power than a men. But men are taking more advantage by using the existing male dominant power in the social space and protect themselves from these abusive languages. In our society most of the abusive languages denotes feminine and very few for men.

Related: The Standpoint Theory


The muted group theory can be applied to understand the problems of the marginalized groups. As women now become powerful and equally contribute to her family and through awareness, the perception dominance can be changed. The anthropological studies which focused only on the dominant voices can be altered by reflecting the society as a whole.


Women being stereotyped can be seen in the mass media and which is converted into a popular culture. The women are portrayed as a sex symbol in most of the advertisements for the male products. The perspective of male towards women has been narrowed down to either sexual or emotional symbol.

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Dana Diaz January 26, 2015, 9:52 am

    This is very helpful. Thank you!

  • Avisa George January 25, 2017, 12:54 pm

    Too touching theory

  • Boo Ali November 18, 2023, 11:11 am

    This is true.

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