My scorn-bound edition of Chambers Concise defines socialisation as “the act or process of socialising: the process by which infants and young children become aware of society and their relationship with others1” Haralambos and Holborn2 are more comprehensive in their definition: socialisation applies to individuals and is a collection of lifelong actions and changes. Social studies of socialisation’s impact upon gender roles and identities have been carried out in the modern western world3 and amongst the less densely populated and differing culture of the tribespeople of New Guinea4.
The purchasing of toys, clothes, linguistic application and the direction to specified acts of play have been interpreted by Ann Oakley as culturally produced. Margaret Mead concluded from the behaviour of the three tribes she studied, that cultural choice was the driving factor with reference to adoption of gender-active norms and values. This social construct is proceeded by physical construction: obligatory nine month stay in the womb, gene-penning and receiving delivery of testosterone or oestrogen.
Goldberg5 and Wilson are proponents of the view that biological determinism has a part to play, with relation to chemical influence on passive/aggressive behavioural development, and on the varying abilities of the sexes. Genetic instruction Wilson types, means men are more promiscuous due to evolutionary related urges and that women are more involved in child-care. 6 Those social scientists putting forward the importance of the ‘nature’ perspective in this area are of number and both Talcott Parsons and John Bowlby have put forward sensible arguments.
In this spaces, I hope to communicate my fine understanding of gender roles, identities and the evolution of, rather than biology, present here only because of the enhanced visibility of the matter. Ann Oakley3 whom I mentioned earlier based her findings on a study by Ruth Hartley around infants in a contemporary trading communities. Oakley wrote that at a young age, children’s self-concept was affected through a childwear fashion manipulation. This adherence to bigger cultural norms is further expanded upon with the over-suggested direction in relation to playthings and the passive/aggressive (or submissive/dominant) images they bring.
This closure of activity choice leads to a path of exposure to activity, one that is pre-defined according to stereotypes with a cautious ward glance according to gender identify. With mother and father is another primary socialiser – a black box window which brings sounds and pictures from the world around. “Television: comforter, nurturer, provider7” D. M. Meehan’s study of shows like Dynasty and Dallas detected ten female character types, divided into roles that were good (submissive, sensitive and domesticated) or bad (rebellious, independent and selfish).
This content analysis study of fiction serials8 brings to light the low-brow targeting of the shows, the addictive nature of the message (as the ‘soap opera/drama’ form intends) is one of stagnation, gender identity is enforced by advice of repetition to the same message. In the real world, bra-burning doesn’t exist as part of Women’s Liberation, rape is treated sensationally and given too much word count : one wonders of the extent to which the media folk set the agenda, correlating improvement in purchases of automobiles. Women’s media too, deals with ‘soft news’ (such as family and fashion).
This most public of images is the ideology the child finds in doctor’s waiting rooms when out of comic books or toys to play with, and their views of the world are further preformed. Not that comicbooklets are much better with reference to representation. Alan Moores semiological analysis9 has findings in common with Meehans. In US comicbooklets, male characters are often ubermensch, attention centre and the only purpose of a woman in a comic is to be ‘rescued’: a convenient plot device, they constantly divert the superheroes attention from worthier matters.
Female characters who are strong (as with younger characters) are mere appendixes to their male counterparts- in the days of Moore’s study Batwoman, Batgirl, Spiderwoman, Supergirl, WonderWoman and She-Hulk were most devoid of any personality that singled them out as fully constructed characters. A study of the teenage girls magazine ‘Jackie’ found results which Angela McRobbie refers to as ‘the ideology of romance’10 : connotive and denotive casting spells of a restricted house based future, moving to marriage and child bearing and rearing.
The quest for (wealthy pop media idol) boys paints on a culture of feminity to which digression is prevented and reinforced by labelling. Oakley’s findings are backed up by two major studies of comprehensive school age. Sharpe11 found priorities and concerns relating to matters of “love, marriage, husbands, children, jobs and careers, more or less in that order”. A similar study ten years later, of roughly a hundred 15-16 year olds from a bigger variation of class and ethnicity got a somewhat similar result12.
Hartnett, although not scribing specifically of teenage years puts forward the idea of a system whereby gender roles are shared out as sex-roles. Gender divisions are created by the assignment of quite opposite personality traits, uneven distribution of activity and social value, which accompanies this. 13 A hundred years ago, Engels14 observed many disturbing elements of the ‘traditional’ family life which in the past number of decades those of the Marxist-Feminist Perspective have found recurring.
The connections between patriarchy and the labour system are too pervading during the attempt to form gender norms and values. The impact of domestic labour on capitalist economy shows the girls the map to the kitchen while the ideological role family provides society, conditions the lads off to the factory15. The development of these gender roles and identities is as the marker is no doubt aware, annoyingly pessimistic, in as far as the bulk of the writings. Many of the studies on these matters are by women and the imbalance is.
Anna Pollert’s report on working classes is a far more encouraging scales balance. Pollert print is of the transit of women to manual labour, “immediately painfully aware of the dehumanisation, the mind-destroying emptiness of their jobs”16 Pollert states that chaps readily embrace employment, and are by default blind to this effect. Returning to biological relativity (for the time of a paragraph) and the impact of gender based identity adoption, Seligman stalks the passive and submissive element to find out that they have ‘learnt helplessness’.
Seligman attempts a through connection that implies the encouragement of acts of dependency are appropriate values for a women. That women are culturally prepared to diffuse stress through the act of sharing is backed up by cultural-behavioural analyses and gender differentials in mortality and morbidity. 17 The dull, tedious nature of housework is also often fulfilling, and Oakley comments upon how there is little prestige to the work and role and a lack of bargaining power, Many married woman would agree with Oakley18 although views are constantly changing19 as the years do.
The conclusion of symmetrical role balance20 (and thus symmetrical role identity) is one which Oakley solidly opposes, mostly on the grounds of it’s financial intimations. The labour-family issue is riddled with colourful concepts, valid and imaginative. J. Stacey’s postmodernist approach is favoured by this author, family and marriage based on relationship needs21. Views are valid regarding individual selection. Social action, social positivism. The power of suggestion. Few community analysts are absolute in their judgements, open to questioning their own theories, findings and interpretations.
Critics are never rare. There are a number of challengers to these documentations of gender identity. The area of ‘Masculinity’ is of primary interest as it is one that suffers from overlook in the social studies foremost represented. I’ve already covered men’s identities as boys in earlier pages of this assignment, so I’ll proceed directly to the part of education, central to the role of socialisation as it is. Marsha Jones in Sociology Review a few years back noted that equal opportunities have been so implemented that researcher concerns now focus upon the lack of educational achievement amongst boys.
Jones findings are based on a statistical analysis: recent GCSE results and she goes on to comment on an increase in truancy amongst working class boys22. With regards to the tertiary socialiser (the mass media), Moore and his colleague, the unique Dave Sim23 have often noted that male entertainment media teaches that ‘character only comes through conflict’. With a patriarchy n place and males behind the camera and in front of it, this quote from W. Farrell’s ‘The Myth of Male Power’ could as easily apply, “It has been mainly men who have died for their country – and they have had little choice in the matter.
Men do the worst jobs: they dies sooner: their lives are given less value (women and children come first): they suffer legal discrimination (eg. Custody of children): their traditional role of breadwinner is misleadingly called ‘power’ (power is about the ability to control one’s life, not the obligation to earn money)> Men have been opposed and damaged by gender roles. The wound that unifies all men is their disposability: as soldiers, workers, fathers. “24 As women are encouraged to go from education to domestic life quickly, men are expected to go from secondary level education to work just as fast.
With regards to family, modern scientific revelations in the media, have built a social construct that whispers to man that biologically they are becoming obsolete, as sperm donators. Rising divorce rates and separation rates have meant lone parents. Rising divorce rates and separation rates have meant lone parents and absentee fathers , hardly cause for surprise when traditional roles are weighed up. ‘Feckless Fathers’ who refuse to pay child support, adherents to the New Right policies police them as demons for the binding. 25
At the workplace, there is a decline of manual labour and the consequent increase in unemployment for working class men. Perhaps this is a result of women’s greater visibility there, coupled with man’s desire to make more of his short life, were he is expected to remain silent about his problems. “What? ” I whisperscreamed in a public restaurant today, reading of D. Thomas “Not Guilty”26. In Britain in 1991, 3,007 men committed suicide (compared with 886 women, if comparison matters). Thomas goes onto calculate that males live lives 7% shorter than those of women.
I find that bloody scary. Looking back to thirty years ago, the following attitudes were on that basis much more bleeding scarier and very very ugly. S. Brownmiller writing in 1975 finds “a pattern of coercive sexuality” were rape is a conscious conspiracy on the part of the male collective to keep all women in a state of fear27. Although statistical figures back up findings of domestic violence, such radical feminist outlooks in the seventies depicted men as a sex as monsters or oppressors. (Radical as Radical-militant-extremist).
Around this time, Tolson identifies a ‘crisis of masculinity’, with males uncertain relating to their roles, and their cause containing ‘contradictions and turmoils28’. A. Dworkin in her study of porn found that it reinforced the ‘myth’ that women like to be dominated by men. There are however feminists who have taken different positions and advocate the pleasure gained from pornography and too, erotic displays. Dworkin attempts to form a causal link with domestic violence. Sadly plausible I guess estimate, but her statement that porn’s social impact desensitises men is valid though somewhat one-sided29.
The following year, saw two more important commentaries and studies, which seem to indicate both genders advocating a wiser and stronger approach. Coote and Campbell30 addressed feminist calls to embrace ‘heterosexual chauvinism’ or ‘separatism’ by pointing out that those roles were as trappings. The aim of a ‘self-determining sexuality’ was given, with sexual preference and lifestyle down to individual choice. Goode31 states that most men were genuinely surprised by the discontent of women and slowly started adjusting to changing gender roles.
Margaret Thatcher, the most powerful visible female role model in the UK had at this point begun to hint at her own secret agendas, lunacie, and sent masses of male troops off to the Falkland Islands to die. The final decade of the eighties saw sociological theory based on good research get into the intricacies of observing and observable gender norms and values. Carrigan et al32 identify hegemonic and subordinate masculine image in dominance. Wolf exposes the false ideology that is the beauty myth and it’s damaging effects such as the creation of inferiority complexes among older women.
With the 1990s only recently ended, I am unable to form quite as crystallised a picture of gender socialisation developing as the years prior. At this point, I have no new studies to mention that haven’t already been mentioned in this chronology of gender norms and values. However, Farrell in his 1992 work suggests that that the world is both patriarchal and matriarchal and I quote a weighty note of advanced healthier optimism, “What we need is not a women’s movement or a men’s movement but a gender transition movement” As strong a signalling for positive socialisation if ever I’ve read one.
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