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Unformatted text preview: position within the adult world of gender. The anxieties aroused by the sissy are precisely
focused on what playing with things feminine signifies for the future sexual identity of the
boy. Whether or not children are aware of the temporal dimension of their identities, each of
these different positions points the child along the path of a gender career.
What we are suggesting is that the positions occupied by different social gender identities
may vary in the extent to which they constrain the child's future development. From this
point of view the identity which a child brings into any social interaction will be an important
influence on the course of the interaction and how meanings are negotiated through it. This
contrasts with social-psychological theories which have drawn on post-structuralist writings
to argue that children's 'subjectivity' is "constituted and reconstituted through the various
discursive practices in which they participate" (Davies, 1989, p. 229). Such theories emphasise the positioning of the self in relation to specific discourses, but they do so in terms
which rarely stretch beyond the immediate horizons of a particular interaction. It is as though The Development of Social Representations of Gender
positions can be endlessly taken up and changed as children move in and out of different
interactions. Yet are gender identities as mobile and flexible as this suggests? Is this not too
synchronic a view, which excludes the diachronic consequences of taking up a specific
position? Our own view is that the constraints of different positions constitute a kind of
inertia which both carries the child into some kinds of interactions rather than others, as well
as generating a more fixed identity than such discursive positioning allows.
The question of how social gender identities are elaborated over time requires further
research. The first year of schooling is only one moment in a more extended developmental
process through which social gender identities are constructed. Even by the end of their first
year, children have not yet elaborated the gender identities which are characteristic of adolescence or adulthood. In this sense the parameters of our research do not allow us to reflect
upon the whole developmental process through which social representations of gender are
internalised and gender identities constructed.
Sexuality and Understanding in Children's Representations of
Central to social representations of gender is a reproductive metaphor which offers an
image of gender in terms of the bipolar opposition of the masculine and feminine. This is an
image which children appear to have acquired very early in their lives and which persists into
adulthood (De Rosa, 1987, also notes that the iconic aspects of social repr...
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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).
- Spring '12
- Social Psychology