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Lecture _11.doc - SOC 101 Principles of Sociology Lecture...

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SOC 101 - Principles of Sociology Lecture Notes #11 Gender and Inequality 1) Introduction . Gender inequality refers to unequal access to power, wealth, and prestige on the basis of sex or gender. Each society uses sex and gender to open or close access to valued societal resources and opportunities. Sex and Gender. Sex implies biological distinctions between males and females; but such distinctions are not relevant or critical to sociologists. Gender refers to social roles, attitudes and behavior that are culturally assigned to males or females. Gender and gendered inequality is of interest to sociologists because it determines access to resources and opportunities and to the way women and men are treated in a male-dominated (or patriarchical society). Women are often considered together with minorities (ethnic or race-based) because of their insufficient access to valued resources and opportunities. (In the 2000 U.S. census, women made up 52% of the population, while men were 48%.) 2) Gendered Inequality . Gender is important to societies because it is socially constructed. Social roles, behaviors and attitudes assigned to males and females are socially constructed or are due to gender role socialization and social control. Through gender, society controls and socializes its members into different experiences and allocates resources and opportunities on the basis of sex. Patriarchical societies are male-dominated societies in which women's power is minimal; women are home-bound or confined to domestic/household roles or 1
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chores. They also tend to exclude women from political and economic control or decision-making. In contrast, matriarchies are societies in which women dominate, but do permit men equal power with women (i.e. tend to be more egalitarian). Such societies have been few and far between . (Examples are found in Ghana in West Africa. Explain.) 3) Society and Sex Roles. Ernestine Friedl, in an article titled "Society and Sex Roles", argues that a society's subsistence (or the way a society acquires goods and services for survival) affects the social positions of men and women in society. Examples are listed below. In simple hunting and gathering societies, there is more gender equality as both men and women are involved in productive activities for societal survival. In pastoral and agricultural societies, distinct gender based inequalities emerge. In agricultural and early industrial societies, inequalities are great.
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