The anxieties aroused by the sissy are precisely

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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 Gender 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).

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