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Outline and evaluate the effect of cultural influences on gender roles

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´╗┐Outline and evaluate the effect of cultural influences on gender roles (24) Differences in gender roles, identities and practices have been found across many different cultures throughout the world. Gender is affected by culture in various ways. One aspect of gender roles, which can be argued to be culturally dependent, is the division of labour amongst different gender types. Division of labour refers to the work, tasks, and behaviours, which are traditionally assigned to men and women. Children are socialised into recognizing what is a stereotypically ?masculine? role and what is a ?feminine? role. For example, in western cultures, stereotypically roles such as being a builder or a policeman are predominantly male gender roles, whereas other careers such as nursing and dancing are seen as predominantly female gender roles. Therefore gendered labour division shows how culture defines our gender roles. There are also 3rd and 4th genders in cultures such as South America and Thailand, for example the Thai Kathoeys have male genetalia but dress in women?s clothing, and are considered a third gender. ...read more.


the gender roles differed greatly, therefore supporting the role of culture on gender. Another study, which supports the role of culture on gender roles, is Hargreaves (1986). He observed that in some cultures, men weave and women make pots, whereas in others, these roles are reversed; women are the major agricultural producers in some, but prohibited from agricultural work in others. Although women are sometimes not physically strong enough to perform agricultural work, this study shows the gendered division of labour varies considerably between cultures. Hargreaves work supports the influence of culture on gender roles as in different cultures, individuals had varying roles in division of labour showing that such roles were not culturally universal, therefore supporting the theory of cultural influence on gender roles. A study, which contradicts the influence of culture on gender roles, is Barry et al. (1957). He performed research across many non-Westernised cultures, looking at which qualities were deemed important for males and females. ...read more.


This can be seen in Mead?s research, which demonstrates the differences in how gender roles are divided cross culturally in Papua New Guinea communities. Conversely, evolutionary theory argues that gendered behaviours developed because they were advantageous mutations to each sex and thus gender roles and divisions of labour are argued to be universal. Evolutionary research, such as Barry?s (1957) study, therefore presents an issue for the argument that gender is culturally relative. As much research has shown there is some universality to gender roles and behaviours throughout the world, this would suggest there is an evolutionary basis to gender, which cultural research fails to explain. Overall, the debate into whether gender is universal, with roots in evolution, or culturally relative, is complex and the research is varied. The best approach would be to consider the complex phenomenon of gender as a combination of both evolutionary traits, which are shaped by cultural experience. In this way, an approach can account for all research and argument into the causes of gender around the world. ...read more.

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