Lecture Week 10

Lecture Week 10 - GENDER The use of the word gender to...

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GENDER The use of the word gende r to refer to the social and cultural meaning of male and female developed only in the 1970s. Until then, most people assumed that biological sex defined in relation to reproduction also determined a social role. If that were true, one would expect that sex roles would be the same in all cultures. But anthropologists had long known that the definitions of male and female, and the social and economic roles they were expected to perform varied considerably cross-culturally. Take, for example, economic sphere. All societies have rules concerning who is do what sorts of work, for whom, and in what manner. All societies define certain tasks as appropriate for men and others as appropriate for women. These rules are called the sexual division of labor . In most societies these separate roles are accepted as part of the natural, unchanging order of things. But anthropologists, who have studied this phenomenon in different societies, have learned that the roles are not determined by biology, at any rate not completely. They are based on social rules that vary from society to society. It is worth to note that gender socialization begins immediately after birth. It is largely in the process of socialization that individuals form their notions of what gender identity means in terms of appropriate or expected and accepted behavior. The relationship of gender to socially expected behavior is far less straightforward than conventional wisdom of many centuries would have us to believe. Each society follows society follows its own guidelines as to what extent behavioral distinctions between the genders should be encouraged and maintained. Biology is much less a determinant of individual behavior and a person’s place in society than are the ways particular groups have organized themselves for social and cultural purposes. And because, as
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we already know, socialization is above all a process of learning, the personalities of men and women come to be differentiated by their accepting the social roles that conform to traditional
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This note was uploaded on 04/29/2008 for the course ANTHRO 104 taught by Professor Bowie during the Fall '08 term at Wisconsin.

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Lecture Week 10 - GENDER The use of the word gender to...

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