Gender As Social Construction Essay

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Sociology Essay
Examine the extent to which social divisions are socially constructed. Use either gender or ethnicity to construct and illustrate your argument.
The study of social divisions has dominated research within the social sciences since the nineteenth century. Individuals place themselves within the social divisions of class, gender, sex and sexuality, race and ethnic diversity, disability and mental illness. These social divisions are socially constructed. When focusing on gender and examining the extent to which it is socially constructed, we must look at the distinction between sex and gender. In addition, we must consider whether gender is socially determined or if it is biological produced. In doing so we must highlight the effects gender has on society – for example, in relation to health and employment.
Firstly, we must understand the term socially constructed, and how it relates to gender. Gender deals with masculinity and femininity. In sociological terms, it is the hierarchical division between men and women which is embedded in social institutions and social practices. Sex, on the other hand, is assigned at birth; based on external genitalia. “Gender is usually described as socially constructed, and sex as biological. The categorising of all human beings as ‘male’ or ‘female’ is left unquestioned.” For example, lady boys in Thailand – “suggests that there is more to sex then just male and female”; depending on the culture of the society you live in. (Marsh, I, Keating, M, Punch, S, Harden, J. (2009). Sociology: Making Sense of Society. 4th ed. Essex: Pearson Education Limited. p217)
When looking at gender differences in health, it is clear that there many inequalities. Firstly, women have some form of biological advantage in terms of life expectancy. For example, in the United Kingdom in 2002, an average woman’s life expectancy was 80.5 years old; whereas men on average were expected to only live until they were 76.0 years old. In almost...

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