Evaluate the contribution of the social perspective to our understanding of language and meaning as well as the psychology of sex and gender.

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Evaluate the contribution of the social perspective to our understanding of language and meaning as well as the psychology of sex and gender.

This essay will evaluate the contribution of the social perspective to the understanding of two central issues in psychology: language and meaning as well as the psychology of sex and gender.  

In the first part of the essay, the impact of the social perspective on sex and gender will be examined and shows how this perspective has widen the knowledge of the topic and what limitations arise. The second part will show how the perspective has contributed to the understanding of language and meaning. Further, it will discussed whether the methodology is appropriate to come to conclusions which provide a full understanding of the topics.

The social perspective focuses on the impact of social influences on human behaviour. Other people are an important factor for human´s development and behaviour. Only the other people make humans behave and think as they do. Another important factor are discourses. They constitute a reality which is chosen by humans where they are appropriate. They are culturally and historically specific and produced socially.

When looking on language and meaning as well as the psychology of sex and gender, the social perspective makes use of the two factors described above. The third factor to explore issues in psychology is the use of studies. The social perspective uses the hermeneutic method to investigate the objects of interest. The strength of this method is that it is based on the analysis of everyday conversations within the social world, outside laboratories or formal settings of study (Cooper and Kaye, 2007a). This is in line with the claim that humans process information better when it is presented in the same way that is encountered in naturalistic environments (Buchanan, Anand, Joffe and Thomas, 2007). This means that the participants take part in studies which appear to be as close as possible to real-life situations and thereby their responses will be too. The ecological validity should be high in such studies.

With the focus on the psychology of sex and gender the social perspective have invented several points which contribute to its understanding. The social constructionists perspective distinguishes between sex as a biological fact and gender as a social construct, which is almost unique in psychology. According to this perspective, it is these constructed gender differences, not sexual or reproductive status or potential, which constitute what it is to be a man or woman and explain our behaviours and experiences (Hollway, Cooper, Johnston and Stevens, 2007a). A good example for this comes from Albania. In remote parts of the country, women take the place of men with all the traditional masculine duties if the male line in the family cannot do that. This highlights the claim that gender differences are produced through socially constructed notions, beliefs and discourses. If they were solely based on sexual differences no woman would ever be able to live a life with traditional masculine duties.

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The perspective also emphasizes the dynamic and ongoing nature of gender construction. It clearly underlines that discourses about femininity and masculinity change during a century or the own stage of life and personal context. This is in line with the development of the roles of men and women between the 1930s and 2000s. As in the 1930s the men were the breadwinners and women were responsible for child-rearing, the picture has changed today and there is not any more a typical family life as in the 1930s. Also, the roles of a woman in her 30s and her 60s may ...

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