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Assess the nature-nurture debate in relation to genders

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Assess the nature-nurture debate in relation to genders The nature vs. nurture debate on whether it is biology or the environment that causes human beings to choose certain roles and lifestyles is a perennial controversy in sociology, but since the seventies the debate has been extended to whether nurture, i.e. culture, can override biology. This is what I hope to discuss in my essay. In order for me to do this, I will need to construct an argument from at least two points of view, the Socio-biologist's point of view and the Socio-constructionist's point of view. I will then discuss how biology and the environment play their part in gender. What is gender difference, and where does it come from? The answers to such questions can be placed along a continuum, according to the importance they attach to biology in explaining gender difference. At one end of the continuum, biological determinists highlight similarities in male behaviour across different environments. They argue that male traits (ie. lack of 'maternal' feeling) have their roots in chromosomal differences or hormonal difference (ie. testosterone) or some other natural characteristic, that distinguishes men from women such as physique. (Bilton,T 2002). Usually men are stronger and muscular. Biological differences are widely believed to be responsible for the differences in both the behaviour of men and women and the roles that they play in society. However, at the other end of the continuum, social constructionist's dispute that gender differences derive from social and cultural processes. ...read more.


According to Professor David Skuse in this article: 'Girls are pre-programmed to acquire social skills intuitively, rather like the way we acquire language. For boys, this is much more difficult' Guardian. June 12. (1997) This article also suggests that genes as much as culture influence the difference in social skills between the sexes. Because of the boys finding it difficult, they have to be taught, and they need a much more structured social environment. Although the hypothesis that biological factors determine behaviour patterns in men and women cannot be dismissed out of hand, nearly a century of research identify the physiological origins of such an influence has been unsuccessful. There is no evidence of the mechanisms which would link such biological forces with the social behaviours exhibited by human men and women. Connel (1987). Theories which see individuals as complying with some kind of innate predisposition, neglect the vital role of social interaction in shaping human behaviour. Learning the gender role begins as a baby in the family. According to environmentalism, the human mind is more or less a blank slate that is inscribed by the individual experiences in society. Early aspects of gender learning by infants are almost unconscious. They precede the stage at which children can accurately label themselves as either a boy or a girl. A range of pre-verbal clues are involved in the initial development of gender awareness. ...read more.


We like to fit into societies norms and values so that we are not seen as the out casts. So when we discuss gender roles, they are much more than a debate, they are central to the direction of the society. From what I have read so far, the main arguments of the social constructionists is that genes do not determine gender roles of individuals. They believe that society mould's us into these stereotypes. If gender roles are all down to biology perspectives, then how has sex roles changed by a substantial amount. Women are now taking powerful jobs and girls are doing better in academic. Due to methods of artificial birth control and legal abortion, women are able to make a choice whether to have a family or not. Thus, enabling women to have the choice and freedom to choose their role in life. I believe that genetics play a big role in the male and females, as they arrange the appropriate and inappropriate physical appearance and behaviour of gender. The real importance is the social meaning we give to them. 'Society plays a lot of importance on male and female organs both psychologically and socially. This importance according to Freud, is demanded by culture and do not rise straightforwardly from the biological alone' Weeks J (1985) Society influences us from early age. Our parent teach us what is right and wrong in society, i.e gender roles. I believe the development that seems most obviously to be determined by innate biological timetables can be affected by environmental events. ...read more.

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