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"Describe what is meant by gender role socialisation and examine its relevance for an understanding of contemporary society"

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Introduction

(Page, 1) Mohammed Emamy 19/11/02 "Describe what is meant by gender role socialisation and examine its relevance for an understanding of contemporary society" Gender role socialisation is one of the most pervading and overlooked features in our lives. Gender by definition refers to the cultural and social influences that define feminine or masculine roles in society. As opposed to sex which refers to biological differences between male and female. The differences between the two forms of reference are also reflected in sociological theories in which there are three main groups. Firstly the Biological determinism approach which is based on the theory that the main social differences between males and females are caused by biological differences. Secondly the cultural or socialisation approach, which explains gender differences such as gender roles, related behaviour and attitudes as the product of cultural socialisation. That is to say our social and cultural environment shapes our gender. For instance a girl may have a firm acceptance of her self as female and still not adopt all of the behaviours her culture considers feminine or avoid all behaviour labelled masculine. The third approach is referred to as the integrated approach. It is integrated in that it draws on both biology and culture. Sociologists representing opposing views have sought to demonstrate their theories of gender using cross-cultural studies. Such as George Murdoch (1965,org. pub. 1949), cited by O'Donell (1992), who presented a survey of 224 societies from around the world, his results showed that men and women tended to undertake different social duties. ...read more.

Middle

(Page, 4) Undoubtedly as the historical evidence shows contemporary society has changed woman's expectations. The uncertainty about security of marriage and a need for self-sufficiency, also society's mutable standards of gender roles have contributed to the large percentage of the labour market represented by women. This is illustrated by the EOC in a recent occupational survey (2001), that shows 45% of women in self-employment in the age group of 16 and over. However this dose not present a true picture of segregation as it stands at the present time. Suzanne Franks stated that "...According to every measurement of pay, age group, and comparable education qualification, women earn less then men..." (Observer, 10.01.99). This inequality Reflects the remnants of the industrialisation age, where men were paid a family wage reinforcing the concept of gender roles in view of woman's dependence. We also know from the evidence that vertical segregation exists in traditional male domains of managers, senior officials and skilled trades. This is graphically demonstrated by a recent employment by occupation survey by the EOC (2001). Women are over represented in lower levels and under represented in the higher status positions. Furthermore the recent changes in demand, such as the rise of the service sector and part time work mainly constituted of women, since it is the only way woman can incorporate private roles with out employing domestic help. Thus contributing to the recent rise of woman in employment, as illustrated by the EOC analysis of part time employees (2001). ...read more.

Conclusion

Possibly it is not a coincidence that those arguing the case for cultural explanations (feminists) tend to be women and those arguing the case for biological explanations tend to be men from previous generations. Such as Karl Marx (1818-1883) and Max Weber (1864-1920), cited in O'Donnell (1992). They both epitomised the social stratification and differentiation theories. Their view was that society is divided into hierarchically ordered layers and institutions. The most basic of which is the family unit organised to produce and rear children, However, as Leonard (2000) likewise stated "... that gender is also produced and reproduced within the household..." cited in the sociology Review (Nov 2000, p28). Perhaps in order to understand gender socialisation and it's relevance to society we have to look even deeper in to how children are brought up and gain a sense of themselves as male and female. Perry and Bussey (1993), cited in Atkinston (1994), social learning theorist states that children learn through observation and adopt gender roles from parents and society. Thus it is feasible to conclude that if a culture becomes less ideologically sex typed then children will become less sex typed in their gender role behaviour. Which in turn they carry through with them into the world of education and work, thus changing contemporary society. Perry and Bussey 1994 social learning theory in psychology contrast to psychoanalytic theory, which reflects biological determinists in sociology in that 'anatomy is destiny'. ...read more.

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