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Discuss the importance of the biology/society dualism to the gendered body

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Introduction

Sociology of the Body Component 1 of a 2 Component Assessment- 40% weighting) Level 6 Discuss the importance of the biology/society dualism to the gendered body The body has played an important part in sociology to explain the differences between the two sexes, and why these differences exist. A lot of social debate is about the relationship between the biological and the social. At one end of the debate there are those who see activities such as sexual behaviour entirely based on biology, they are called biological determinists who argue that there is biological bases for child rearing and different sexual orientations and also refer to pre- programmed behaviour. At the other end of the scale are those who see sexual and other kinds of behaviour as entirely social constructed, they see that people learn their behaviour through their culture. Both approaches identify and stress the importance of their view, this will be discussed further, and it will identify why both aspects are important when trying to understand the gendered body In gender, reproductive differences between males and females are assumed to directly reflect a whole range of others differences between the two sexes. As women have two X chromosomes, and men have one X and one Y chromosome (Connell: 2002:28) These genetic differences according to some sociologists and scientists affect the ways in which women and men can behave and have an affect as to what is capable of them, and the difference in genes between the two sexes explain the gendered body. ...read more.

Middle

(Shilling: 2003: 63). Foucault's theory states the body is not only given meaning by discourse, but is wholly constituted by discourse. Foucault (1972: 49) states discourses are practices, which form the objects of which we speak. By this he means that a discourse refers to a set of meanings, metaphors, representations, images, stories, statements etc that is some way together produce a particular version of events. These discourses of how we see meanings and how we feel we should act in order to do with our sex creates the gendered body. Foucault (cited in Hall: 2001:72) argues that discourse constructs the topic, it defines and creates the objects of our knowledge. If discourses regulate our knowledge of the world, our common understandings inform our social practices then it becomes evident that there is a close relationship between discourse, knowledge and power, this was a relationship that Foucault specifically focused his attention upon. In -relation to power Foucault rejects the view that power is an essential repressive force, in reality he sees power as a produce of knowledge. Changes in the nature of society such as increase in population, the change from agricultural to an industrial economy, brought together with them social practices that allow certain discourses or knowledge of the person to rise to prominence. These discourses have produced the individual, the individual we feel to be inhabited by drives and motivations; possessed by traits and characteristics, and who freely chosen actions are monitored by conscience. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is evident that both these arguments show strong evidence in suggesting reasons for the gendered body and explaining why the gendered body exists within society. The gendered body and that both the biological and social aspects have an influence on the gendered body. Bodies have agency and bodies are socially constructed. Biological and social analysis cannot be cut apart from each other. (Connell: 2002: 47) Both the biological and the social account of the body must be considered when trying to understand the gendered body, as both influence and construct the gendered body. The gendered body is constructed from the biological differences that each sex is born with but also these differences are added to through discourses and social practices and made stronger creating clear distinctions between males and females. There is more evidence to suggests that individuals are shaped in their gender identities by their upbringing in life, how their culture, religion, general environment and socialisation shape their roles, rather than their biology, although the biological aspect does need considering when gaining a clear understanding of the gendered body. The dualism of the two approaches is needed to identify fully the differences between the two sexes, both approaches separately neglect the other factors social constructionist ignore the biological accounts and visa versa. So like Connell does when bringing both aspects together a better understanding of the gendered body is reached, but both explanations are needed and are extremely useful when trying to understand the gendered body. ...read more.

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