In our account of the development of social

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Unformatted text preview: does not offer a ready made social psychology. In our account of the development of social representations of gender we have emphasised the importance of social identities as the structures differentiating between groupings of individuals. Within sex groups, social representations of gender offer a variety of possible gender identities, enabling individuals to position themselves in a number of different ways. Each type of social identity provides a certain version of femininity or masculinity, and for the child, different types of social gender identity provide both a means for orienting themselves in the social world of the classroom and a pathway towards the development of their gender identity in later years. For the positions which children adopt also structure their experiences in the classroom and beyond. In one of the classrooms we observed, for example, some girls had elaborated a feminine identity which excluded boys while others adopted a position in which their femininity could also encompass relations with boys. These two groups of girls are finding different ways of being female, and one consequence of this is a differentiation in their practical experiences in the classroom. Why individual children come to position themselves in different ways may be an interesting question, but it is not one which our research was designed to address. What we can see from our research is that the solutions which children find to the problem of how to position themselves follow patterns which are established within the representational space of gender. In other words, social representations of gender also mark out positions which offer viable gender identities. Viability refers to the extent to which positions within the gender system are consistent with the norms and values of the system. An extreme example can help to clarify this point. It is possible for a girl to engage consistently with boys in masculine marked activities. The position of 'tomboy' is a viable identity for a girl. Yet the reverse, a boy who consistently engages with girls in feminine activities, is an untenable position. A boy who did this would become the focus for concern on the part of teachers and parents. The development of social gender identities refers, then, not to the way in which children negotiate an individual resolution to the question of situating themselves in the world of gender, but, rather, to their adoption of positions which are more or less clearly marked 3 4 G. Duveen within the social representations of gender. Positioning in this sense has rarely been examined in work on social representations, which have, for the most part, studied the emergence of divergent representations in different groups. The process through which the same representation gives rise to different social id...
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This note was uploaded on 12/13/2012 for the course PSYCHOLOGY 107 taught by Professor Neascu during the Spring '12 term at UMass (Amherst).

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