• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10

'Gender relations are the axis around which family life is organized.' Why might the perspectives of social psychology / sociology and psychoanalysis interpret this statement in different ways?

Extracts from this document...


'Gender relations are the axis around which family life is organized.' Why might the perspectives of social psychology / sociology and psychoanalysis interpret this statement in different ways? Whilst gender relations are fundamental to any understanding of family life, this essay will focus on the perspectives alluded to in the question, those of social psychology/ sociology and psychoanalysis. However, it must be noted that within each perspective there are a number of theories, each with differing views on the topics of gender and gender relations. For purposes of clarity and concision, this argument will focus on particular aspects of these perspectives, namely role theory and object relations theory, although where appropriate, other aspects within the social psychological/sociological and psychoanalytic accounts will be examined. It must also be noted that the essay will assume that the 'family' includes parents and children, since '...in common sense ideology, the transition to parenthood is seen...as the moment when new families are created.' (Wetherell, 1997, p.214) It will become clear that while each perspective does indeed view gender relations as pivotal to the process of the creation and maintenance of family life, each stems from very different understandings as to how gender relations are constituted. ...read more.


Indeed, many feminists condemn this role as particularly oppressive for women, since it is characterised by repetition and isolation. In contrast, a study by Russell (1983) found that the role of 'father' gives men several models, ranging from 'distant' to 'highly involved', all of which are accepted modes of behaviour in fathering. Despite the unequal power relations within the family, its popularity is seen by some as evidence that many women derive enjoyment from their roles within it. Whilst this is undoubtedly true, feminists point to the constraints of social scripts, and the fact that many people have internalized the beliefs and values of the predominant ideologies to such a degree, that alternative ways of organizing gender relations are simply not considered (Wetherell, 1997). To summarize, the social/psychological perspective involves claims that gender relations within families reflect those of the wider social structure. This then effectively subordinates women through their inferior position within the sexual division of labour, which in turn constructs differential gender roles. Although this approach is useful in identifying connections between the family and the social world, and sheds some light on why power relations within families seem inherently unequal, it has been criticized in that it fails to deal effectively with the ethnic and cultural diversity prevalent in society. ...read more.


As Spelman (1988) argues '...do families have no racial or class or ethnic identity?'. In more recent work, Chodorow acknowledges this criticism, suggesting that whilst the form of the human mind is as psychoanalysis claims, the content is likely to vary with culture. However, this criticism is not unique to psychoanalysis, since both approaches tend towards assuming commonality, perceiving social groups to be homogeneous in their experiences and beliefs. This aside, it would seem, given the critiques of both the social/psychological and the psychoanalytic approaches, that although both acknowledge the importance of gender and gender relations to family life, it would be beneficial to consider aspects of both perspectives to gain a fuller understanding. It is true that families, whatever their form, both reflect and help to maintain the social order. Indeed, the Freudian concept of the unconscious, created through repression must inevitably be the product of culture, since what is repressed is taboo, and taboos are social phenomena. As Goldner et al (1990) argue the construction of gender is not simply a psychological process, nor merely a product of society, it is '...a universal principle of cultural life...' incorporated within both the individual psyche and the ideologies of society. ...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. Different Sociological Perspectives on Crime

    This made the public feel that something was being done about the problem, so the media moved on to other teenage deviant groups e.g. student radicals and hippies. Cohen was influenced by labelling and subcultural theories. The subculture discussed here is of working-class urban males in late adolescents who grew up in a class-ridden society.

  2. Changes in Family Roles

    The reason I used primary sources was because I felt not all the secondary sources were entirely relevant to my topic. Collecting my own data meant that it would be specific to my topic. Despite this, when collecting my primary data I found that it took up a lot of my time which means it is very time consuming.

  1. To what extent do sociologists argue that the family is beneficial to society?

    However, they feel that this is built in to the capitalist system. Irene Bruegel felt that women not only performed a valuable unpaid role as domestic workers, but also provided a 'reserve army of labour'. Juliet Mitchell in 1971 agreed with Engels' argument that women should be freed from domestic

  2. "Age is a social construct". How far do you agree with this statement?

    In order to have cultural diversity different cultures react differently towards these changes. Many sociologists believe that age is socially constructed, this is due to the cultural diversity that exists and the diverse behaviours of the age groups. Sociologists in western society, generalise the life stages, childhood, teenagers, adults and the elderly.

  1. Discuss the concept of 'Double Colonization'; how do postcolonial women writers contest both patriarchy ...

    The women were given two places, one of the protector mother and other of the eternal lover Sacrificer. There was no scope for them between the pedestal and the porch. They were not allowed the place of a mortal. This to them forced the conditioning and they regarded it as their fate.

  2. Rationale - I have decided to study the gender-oriented issue of conjugal roles in ...

    The representatives of the sample, especially the equal sexes ratio. All diaries were handed out to respondents in their home because of the anonymity of the diaries. The weaknesses of my research were that the respondents might have thought the research was official and feel threatened by it, and so refuse to co-operate with it etc.

  1. The essay will begin by looking at what normality and social construction is and ...

    This does not make them any less of a human being. But most people have not been brought up to accept them. Through fear, ignorance and prejudice, barriers and discriminatory practices develop which disable them. The understanding of this process of disablement allows disabled people to feel good about themselves and empowers them to fight for their human rights.

  2. A-Level Sociology Theory + Methods Revision.

    The economic environment shapes the person + they have little choice in the matter. Humanitarian Marxism - Gramsci on alternative/popular hegemony in response to the state. Hegemony - Rule by consent. "Best Thing For You". Alt/pop going against Heg = Heg - War!

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