GENDER-ROLE SOCIALISATION: The process by which people learn how to act in feminine and masculine ways
GENDER: The behaviour that culture associates with femininity and masculinity
SEX: The biological differences between males and females (e.g. hormones, chromosomes and genitalia)
SOCIALLY CONSTRUCTED: Produced by society, manufactured by culture rather than biologically inherited
Gender expectations are transmitted to the next generation through Gender-role Socialisation. Sociologists believe that gender differences between males and females are largely the result of society's expectations. Sociologists therefore argue that masculinity and femininity are Socially Constructed rather than being the product of biology
Hegemonic Definitions of Masculinity and Femininit
HEGEMONIC: Cultural dominance
Men and women are supposed to behave in a certain way in our culture until fairly recently. Connel (1992) refers to these ideas as Hegemonic masculinity and femininity.
The set of ideas has allocated very distinctive family roles to men and women
Women: Expected to occupy the maternal role, take on the responsibility for housework, show emotion and affection openly. It was accepted for them to cry, kiss, hug and hold hands in public
Men: Expected to be the head of the household, the economic breadwinner, to be aggressive and tough. It was not expected for them to show their emotions
The Family and Gender-role Socialisation
Infants and children are trained to conform to social expectations about their gender. This is mainly done by the family in primary socialisation.
Oakley (1982): Identifies four processes central to the construction of gender identity:
Manipulation: Parents encourage and reward or discourage behaviour on the basis whether it is appropriate for the child's sex. (E.g. A mother may encourage her daughter to view her appearance as important, whereas a father may encourage his son not to cry and take part in sports)
Canalisation: Parents direct children's interests into toys and activities that are seen normal for that sex (E.g. A girl should play with barbie dolls and take part in ballet whereas a boy should play with cars and take part in football)
Domestic Activities: Daughters may have cultural expectations about their future responsibilities which reinforced by mothers insisting they help with housework
Verbal Appellations: Parents may reinforce cultural expectations by referring to daughters and sons using stereotypical feminine and masculine descriptions such as 'pretty' and 'handsome'