Gender differences

  • Created by: Laura
  • Created on: 07-12-10 11:18

Parsons 1950s – Sex Role Differentiation

  • A Functionalist sociologist
  • Males and females are socialised into taking on different roles that reflect their natural characteristics.
  • Parsons somewhat supports the biological deterministic view of gender.
  • Men should adopt instrumental roles
  • Women should adopt expressive
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Key terms

Sex: your biological status as boy or girl, man or woman. The physical differences between males and females and defined at birth.

Gender: A sociological concept of the socially learned characteristics that are ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’. Different norms and values apply to male and female behaviour.

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Oakley 1981

  • Manipulation - the way parents reward and discourage behaviour dependent on the childs sex.
  • Canalisation - the way parents direct childrens interests; toys hobbies.
  • Domestic activities - daughters may have cultural expectations about their future responsiblities (reinforced by mothers)
  • Verbal - parents may reinforce cultural expectations by referring to their children with sterotypical descriptions (pretty,handsome)
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Seidler 2006: Asian Girls’ Femininity

For girls from some Asian backgrounds get their perceptions and expectations for their femininity based on their experiences within their family – they learn that they are allowed to do less than their brothers and that there are expectations placed on them on how girls are supposed to behave. Girls therefore adopt a dual femininty – a traditional, normative female role at home and a more questioning femininity outside.

Osler and Vincent 2003

The girls they researched were less willing to pose direct challenges to authority because they didn’t want to get into trouble and damage their reputation. Boys were viewed positively by their peers if they got into trouble – having an attitude and being physical were seen as important to their identity. For girls, their physical appearance was seen as important.


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Gender Identities

Will, Self and Datan - baby Beth and Adam

Mitchell and Green (2002)


Archer (2003)


Frosh et al (2002)

Charles (2002).

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william johnston



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