• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Discuss (critically and with a range of examples) the notion that identity is bound up inextricably with the body

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Discuss (critically and with a range of examples) the notion that identity is bound up inextricably with the body Traditional theory in the psychology of the individual claimed that personality could be categorised by pre-determined, inherent traits exhibited in people's behaviour. These traits had 'cross-situational consistency' and could be established through methodology such as intelligence tests and personality questionnaires (Eysenck, 1995). An example of this categorisation is Eysenck's (1970) extraversion and neuroticism study where people were classified into a particular category and it was believed that their behaviour could be predicted on this basis in any social situation. The new paradigm raised doubts about this traditional theory and emphasised the importance of context; this perspective was termed social constructionism. However, since advocates of this approach place so much importance on the influence of social interaction and norms and it has become so prominent, they fail to consider the significance of the body in forming identity. This essay will examine the social constructionist perspective, considering the importance of discourse and culture. It will then go on to look at how including the influence of body can be useful, including through gender. Finally, I will evaluate whether considering the body would provide a positive contribution to the understanding of the individual, or whether the current social constructionist perspective is sufficient. Firstly, it is necessary to highlight that social contructionism is an epistemological perspective; that is, it is not an explanatory theory but more of a 'philosophy' of understanding (Gergen, 1985). ...read more.

Middle

This is culturally specific as the English language has only one word for it, but I still think that whatever it is called the fact that semi-frozen water is falling down from the sky will still be there. All of this points inevitably to the idea that, for social constructionists, there is no actual 'truth'. Since everything only exists and has meaning in relation to the social context, nothing can be real. Latour & Woolgar (1979) and Knorr-Cetina (1981) (see Gergen, 1985) carried out participant observation on investigations in naturel sciences and concluded that what were seen as facts were themselves reliant on social microprocesses. However, although the social constructionist perspective is convincing, this is the first place where it proverbially shoots itself in the foot. If, as constructionists argue, nothing is 'true' or 'real' how can they say that their perspective is true and, implicitly, that the body has no importance? Especially when, if everything is culturally and historically specific, nothing they say be taken as truth or relevant to another culture or age, as they are also subject to the particular context in which they are situated. Sartre (1966) (see Synnott, 1993) said the body was the complete representation of the self: that was all we were. As much I think this is a little extreme, as I do think there is some social influence, I do agree that it has some importance. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, this is not to say that the social constructionist perspective should be ignored. On the contrary, I believe that a combination of the two is the only way to gain a complete understanding of the psychology of the individual, as those such as Burr (1999) assert. After all 'bodies are the intimate place where nature and culture meet' (Cromby & Nightingale, 1999, p.10) Hatcher (1994) conducted an investigation asking students which event they felt marked their transition into adulthood. Although 24% said it was physiological puberty, a higher 34% said it was moving away to college. I would agree with the majority as I did not feel as though I was an adult until I left home to come to university either. At the age of 11, when puberty began for myself and many others, I was far from becoming an adult; though a reliance on the body to determine this would say otherwise. In contrast, if I had decided that I wanted to have a child, this would have not been possible until I did experience physiological puberty. Hence, the latter was determined by my body and the former was socially constructed, emphasising the importance of a dual understanding. Therefore, if social constructionism continues to ignore embodiment and treat it as completely unimportant when studying the psychology of the individual, it will lose its prominent place as a perspective. Critics are beginning to realise this flaw and will reject the idea as a whole if social constructionists do not take steps to amend it soon. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Sociology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Sociology essays

  1. "The 'social constructionism versus essentialism' debate cannot be avoided when we study gender and ...

    It was largely dependent on the way in which the child had been reared; whether they had been accepted as 'male' or 'female' by their families and peers, which affected their own feelings about their gender identity. Similarly, transsexuals who are physically 'normal', appear to have trouble with gender identity

  2. Should cosmetic surgery be freely available on the NHS?

    Where does one end and the other begin? It's a tricky one. I'm not suggesting there is anything wrong with having a fashionable hair cut, being interested in trendy clothes, or being bright and colourful. And I can't deny the fact that makeovers are just fun. Nevertheless, I think that women are seen far more than men, as changeable creatures.

  1. Gender is determined by society, forming a self-concept whether we are male or female ...

    However, the judges were all university undergraduates. This means most were between the ages of 18 and 21. Bem ensures she has a test with face validity, because the items are selected on their face value in the first place. The sentence does ask for a judgment of desirability.

  2. Using examples describe a range of sociological perspectives and theories (including both classic and ...

    There are four main different types of Feminism - Difference, Radical, Liberal, and Marxist. Difference Feminists argue that women are oppressed but it depends on different experiences and conditions. Difference Feminism attempts to revalue the feminine aspects that have been devalued by society.

  1. Shifting Gender Norms: The Ideal Woman in Story of an African Farm.

    Interestingly, Lyndall-our new woman-is never deceived by Blenkins, nor does she ever regard him as anything more than a trial to be gotten through. How different would the novel be if Sannie were more endowed with intellect? Improvements on the Standard: By simply reading the novel it is clear that

  2. Is identity given to us or do we create our own?

    Socialisation is essential for the process of becoming human and fitting into society. Many sociologists believe that our identities are formed through the characteristic norms and values of cultures and societies that we belong to and socialise in. These characteristics are important sources of our identity and according to many

  1. Gender bias in Psychology

    However Rosenthal found male experimenters more friendly, honest and pleasant towards women which may make them feel more comfortable. Still, the findings were still generalised to both sexes, and the fact that it was a lab experiment may have

  2. Write a critical analysis of Plath's "The Applicant", bearing in mind the voice of the ...

    of a choice, a sense of parts and the final decision whether to 'marry it', that however fragmented he is, at least he marries the suit through his choice. The man however, is still alienated, he has freedom of choice only in comparison with the much more limited situation of the woman.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work