Social Influences on Gender

907 Words4 Pages
Discus the influence of social contexts on gender (for example the influences of parents and the media) (24 marks) Gender refers to the culturally constructed differences between masculinity and femininity. The social learning theory, also known as the behaviourist approach, proposes that we learn gender appropriate behaviours through socialization and upbringing. In this essay I shall be discussing Bandura’s social learning theory and the influences of parents and the media on gender development. Walters and Bandura created the Social learning theory in order to explain how our social environment is the main factor which steers our gender development. The two important ways that we learn gender role behaviours is through operant conditioning and modelling. Children may be punished for gender inappropriate behaviours in order to shape their attitudes, for example, a boy being teased for playing with dolls. This behaviour would be negatively reinforced as a society may believe it doesn’t run accordingly to their gender role. Positive reinforcement would be given in forms of rewards such as praise to encourage children to exhibit gender appropriate behaviors, for example, a girl being praised for baking and wearing dresses. Modelling, also known as social learning is where a child engages in gender role behaviour through observation of same-sex models, internalizing and imitating their behaviours and attitudes. However a child must be able to differentiate between gender role models in order to learn what is right or wrong to do in terms of gender appropriate behaviours. The key to social learning theory is that our understanding of gender comes from our social environment. Often it is our parents who are our main role models from a young age as they are with us from birth. Based on their understanding of their gender will then influence the behaviours and
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