Gender is understood as a system of relations, a social product constantly negotiated and redefined that both constrains and provides opportunity for action. Gender is built into the family, the economy, labour force, education, religion and the state. (Cornwall, 2009, p. 253). In summary Gender is not a fixed characteristic but what people believe they are and choose to follow as shown by the above
Fulcher & Scott (2011) believe gender to examine the differences between men and women in relation to feeling, thinking and behaving. When focusing on gender and how it is socially constructed, this essay will first determine the distinction between gender and sex, the inequalities between genders in relation to health and employment, and finally, will consider the extent to which gender is socially or biologically constructed. Sociological thinking of gender is relatively new in the sociological realm. It was only from the 1970s that sociologists began to make a distinction between gender and sex. The women’s movement and the consequent development of feminist ideas in the 1960s and 1970s influenced the question of gender and began emphasise the importance of gender as a concept of its own.
From the very moment we are born, our gender plays a vital role in shaping our lives. It determines our identity through our attitudes, our behaviours, and the path in which our life is going to take due to status, stereotyping, gender roles (McDermott & Hatemi 2011). Whilst gender and sex are commonly grouped together, they do not mean the same thing. A person’s sex refers to the biological characteristics distinguishing male and female, whereas gender refers to the social, cultural and psychological components of what it means to be feminine or masculine. This implies that all people can be placed into either category, when it isn’t in fact this simple.
122 As a process, gender creates the social differences that define “woman” and “man.” In social interaction throughout their lives, individuals learn what is expected, see what is expected, act and react in expected ways, and thus simultaneously construct and maintain the gender order pg. 123 As part of a stratification system, gender ranks men above women of the same race and class pg. 123 The dominant categories are the hegemonic ideals, taken so for granted as the way things should be that white is not ordinarily thought of as race, middle class or men as a gender. The characteristics of these categories define the Other as that which lacks the valuable qualities the dominants exhibit. Pg.
Parsons said that these roles made things ‘nice and functional’. He also said that men and women were biologically suited to these roles so it was only natural for men to be the breadwinners and women are the stay at home wives. This is a very traditional view. There are many factors affecting power relationships and the division of labour between couples. Firstly, whether a family live in a symmetrical family or not will have an effect on the divisions of labour.
Outline and evaluate the Biological approach to gender development The biological approach to gender development tells us that sex determines if an individual is genetically a male or female but that gender determines your own feelings about who you are as a person, either masculine or feminine, and this is due to the differences in their brains. This usually is due to the chromosomes a person has or hormonal differences. Every individual has 23 pairs of chromosomes. Women have 2 X chromosomes while men have an X and a Y chromosome. As an embryo, a male’s Y chromosome starts to produce testosterone and other male sex hormones.
Sex makes up the biological differences; of male or female. Gender is the socially learned behaviors that are attached to the sexes (Henslin, p. 322), which create Gender Roles. Gender roles constitute the attitudes and behaviors that are expected of males and females in a given culture of society. It is these gender roles that give the impact of gender inequality amongst the male and the female sex. Gender roles are not given at birth, as ones biological sex, they are to be learned and taught amongst those surrounding one at an early age, and the society and culture one lives in.
By the time we reached late childhood and adolescence our concept of gender identity and sexual orientation is firmly entrenched (Wood, 2010). Our behavior, aspirations and attitudes is also strongly influenced by the gender role expectations in particular cultures. This essay will relate, contrast sex and gender in society and how important it is for sociologists to distinguish them both. The term “sex” is the natural biological genetic makeup that distinguishes males from females and in particular the sexual organs and their characteristics. Bodies are, so we think, natural, God- given, sacred, hardwired.
The biosocial explanation of gender was advanced by Money and Ehrhardt, who proposed that there are a number of critical events that affect the early development of a child. These events begin before birth in the form of maternal hormones and genes. However, from birth onwards, social factors also begin to play an important part. Once a child is labelled as a boy or a girl, they are treated very differently and these social factors interact with the biological ones to determine the child’s gender identity. In the majority of cases, the child’s biological sex matches their gender and there are no problems.
Doing Gender (West and Zimmerman) * The article introduced their notion of gender not as a trait, a social role or a societal representation, but rather as an accomplishment- the product of daily social practices and behaviors which codify and manifest femininity of masculinity. This product is the result of social structures and it in itself serves to reinforce them. * The "doing" of gender legitimizes social structures and therefore establishes the male/female opposition as natural. * West and Zimmerman argue that gender is something which is performed, something which is "done” * Gender is established by mean of interaction and is displayed through it, and while appearing as "natural" it is in fact something which is created by an organized social performance. * Gender is also a