The influence of culture and media on gender roles


Influence of culture and media on gender roles

Culture and gender roles

  • If particular gender-role beh appears to be consistent across different cultures, we might conclude that this represents an innate, bio difference between males and females
  • If we find that some gender-role behaviors are culturally specific we might we assume that the influence of shared norms and socialisation is decisive

Cultural differences

  • Margaret Mead studied gender roles of tribal groups on the island of New Guinea:
    • The Arapesh were gentle and responsive
    • The Mundugmor were aggressive and hostile
    • The Tchambuli women were dominant and they organised village life: men were passive and considered to 'decorative'
  • Suggests that there may not be a direct/bio relationship between sex and gender, gender roles may be culturally determined
  •  Mead concluded that she had underestimated the universal nature of many gender-typical behs
  • However, she went on to argue that the extent to which innate behs are expressed is largely the result of cultural norms

Cultural similarities

  • Buss found consistent paaterns in mate preferences in 37 countries across all continents
  • In all cultures, women sought men who could offer wealth and resources, whilst men looked for youth and physical attractiveness
  • Munroe and Munroe revelaled that in most societies, division of labour is organised along gender lines

-Criticisms of Mead's research

  • Mead's research has been criticised for not separating her own opinions from her desription of Samoan life (observer bias) and for making sweeping generalisations based on a relatively short period of study
  • Derek Freeman was highly critical of Mead's conclusions and conducted a follow-up study of the Samoan people decades after Mead's original investigation
  • He argued that Mead's findings were flawed as she had been misled by some of her ppts, and that her preconceptions of what she would find had influenced her reading of events

-Imposed etic

  • Cross-cultural research is typically undertaken by Western researchers who take indigenous populations to be their object of study
  • There is danger that researchers, armed with theories and methods that have been…


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