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formative years Bonnie Fox.docx

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Formative years: Bonnie Fox  Study aimed at looking how parenthood produces gender differences and inequalities  Old explanations of individual gender differences due to childhood socialization, and its presumably lasting effects have been challenged. Focus has turned to structural sources of gender differences, arising out of the gendered division of paid and unpaid work, which shape people’s choices and constrain their options and thus explain much about their behavior and choices as adults  Old focus of socialization meant that considerable attention was directed at families  Patterns that parents develop in their baby’s formative years are perhaps also formative of patterns that will remain in their relationship and structure their household  Transition to parenthood as a key producer of gender divisions in heterosexual couples  Zimmer: argued members ‘do’ gender as they ‘do’ housework and childcare, and what has been called the division of labor provides for the joint production of household labor and gender  Gender is an ‘ongoing activity embedded in everyday interactions’  Social constructionist approaches: (pays more attention to social relations) stresses that the ongoing, contingent nature of social phenomena. People search for meaning that ‘constructs identity, certainly social interaction and social relationships also ‘construct’ the ongoing social practices that divide women and men and create in them a sense of gender identity  Martha McMahons, Engendering Motherhood: (SC), women make decisions about and interpret their lives indicate that mothering often transforms women so that they come to identify with conventional notions of motherhood  Kathryn Backett: interactionist perspective, argues that in studying two parent families, the behavior of one spouse is only properly understood in the context of the other  Mothers and fathers are defined in interaction  ‘doing parenthood’ is a form of ‘doing gender’, and that cultural images of ‘good motherhood’ and ‘good fatherhood’ are the dominant influences on the development of parental roles  SC: problematic. Symbolic nature of daily practices has meant the assumptions that social expectations, based on shared values and norms are what move people.  The norms that determine people’s behavior are assumed to be given, they are not questioned  Also assumed that because people are always held accountable to gender norms, ‘doing gender is unavoidable’. Seems like only one way to ‘do motherhood’  Leaves little room for human agency  Functionalism: the ‘doing gender’ approach risks overlooking the contradictions inherent in social arrangements  Women may choose ‘intensive mother’- prioritizing the baby’s needs every minute of every day but ultimately such a choice requires the ‘consent’ of her partner  Without his consent and support she is likely to change her definition f what the baby needs and what she must provide 
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