Culture continued


Learning gender identity through socialisation:

  • 1 of most important identities may have - gender. Our biological sex will cary with it a set of cultural expecations. Cultural expectations - gender roles. From before birth, child may be treated differently according to biological sex. Many parents choose to know what sex they are expecting so can decorate nursery, buy gender-appropriate clothes and toys and choose a gender-appropriate name despite very little difference in appearance and behavior of babies on basis of sex. 
  • Gender identities - Farley (1990) pointed out in Western cultures, expected male identities included, leadership, control of social situations, decision making, active, unemotional and aggressive behaviours. 
  • Expected feminine identity behaviours include, physical dependency and weakness, emotionalism, lack of control, passive, caring and family orientated. 
  • Family - Ann Oakley described processes of gender socialisation and claimed children learned expected behaviour for gender through following primary socialisation processes:
  • Manipulation -  parents encourage behaviour that is normal for the gender and discourage what they may see as inappropriate gender behaviour e.g. phrases such as 'boys don't cry'.
  • Canalisation - boys and girls are channelled into appropriate activities, boys are given 'male' toys that encourage physical activity and girls are offered dolls to encourage caring. 
  • Verbal appellations - girls will be called 'angel' and 'princess' while boys are called more aggresive names such as 'little monster'.
  • Different activities - girls are taken to dance classes or kept at home to help, whereas boys are sent out to play, or taken to football training. 
  • Idea developed and criticised by Stratham 1986 who said that even if parents avoid purposful socialisation, cultural and social expectations were so powerful that children still behave in gendered ways because of the powerful influence of secondary socialisation. 
  • Media - Judith Butler (1990) - media stereotyping of gender roles - so powerful - difficult to avoid gender socialisaiton and gendered behaviour. Large amount of literature on body image in the media, unnatural or unusual body types being presented as the ideal and the norm for both men and women. Pressure on people to conform. 
  • Naomi Wolf (1990) complained that the idea of a perfect body image was a means to control and exploit women. Celebrities such as Kate Winslett and Brad Pitt have actively complained about the way that their images are manipulated through photoshop to present unnaturally perfect images. They argue that it contributes to eating disorders and emotional problems among the vulnerable young people. 

Learning class identity through socialisation: 

  • Social class in an important concept. Used to describe entire groups of people of similar education, income and occupational background. Traditionally in Britain we talk of people being upper, middle and lower (working) class, but in reality the class groupings are more complex than that. Those who are in the upper class are the extremelt wealthy and powerful, they often own land and property. There are few of them, but they have access to political and social power. In practical terms for much discussion, most sociologists refer to two…


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