SOC 2104 Exam material
Week 8 Part 1: Social constructionism
Impact of socialization on the individual:
• Study was done on the isolation and maltreatment of children lead to abuse, abnormality,
antisocial, permanent damage, requires special care and can also lead to death.
Acquisition of gender skills:
• Can be voluntary and comes from choice and experiences
Can be coerced and forced
• Survival in society could be smooth, a brutal suppression or a torture depending on how
you receive your gender and which gender you end up with.
• Biology provides the raw material; being a male and having a penis is different from
being a female and having a vagina
• Society and history provide content and context almost like an instruction manual. Norms
and values of the society determine what is acceptable and what is not and is passed
down from generation to generation.
Factors that influence different definitions of femininity and masculinity:
• Cultural differences; different cultures accept different values and norms
• History provides a why a society has each value and norm
• An individuals life course and experience influences different definitions of gender
• Variations within a culture based on; race, class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, age,
education and religion.
Limitations of sex role theories:
• Emphasis on roles. Example could be traditionally men carry the role of providing
financially for their family where women provide caring for the children and housework.
• Monolithic conception of gender that refers to seeing ‘men’ and ‘women’ instead of
humans or people.
• Normative conceptions of gender, which is when an individual acts according to the
gender assigned to them at birth.
• Differences described as opposites which depoliticizes gender
• Ignores the situational aspect of gender
Constructionist arguments on gender differences:
• Social interaction with the environment defines gender
• Gender is plural (two types: male and female)
• Gender is relational (sees gender as social relationships rather than human attributes
• Gender is situational (gender is different everywhere you go)
• Gender politicizes
• Differences within groups are greater than differences between groups
Constructionist perspectives on difference and inequality:
• Power and gender:
1. Power produces difference and inequality because it is a source of domination (when an
individual/group has power they become in sense more important than everyone else, this
puts them above everyone)
2. It is the property of a group or social life. (When an individual has power often in say a
government they own the group they govern)
3. Constructs and deconstructs (It is always being built and than torn down; always
4. Like the invisibility of privilege; power is invisible to the powerful. Those with power do
not realize how powerful they are.
• Gender and Life course:
1. Gender roles change throughout life
2. Acquisition of skills does not end with agents of socialization (getting your gender comes
from a life course and not from those who influence the mainstream behaviors, norms
and attitudes towards it)
3. Impact of age and experience of aging on gender (midlife crisis: mostly middle age men
(some women) develop a crisis from pressure to make changes in their work,
relationships and leisure) stigmatization, and marriage.
• Gender and Institutions:
1. Institutions are not gender neutral. Example: Men occupy virtually all positions of
2. Argument that gender is a property of institutions. Socialization agents of institutions
3. There is an assumption that institutions are gender neutral
4. Institutions produce gender divisions
5. Construction of gender symbols and images (gendered bathrooms)
6. Interactions express patterns of domination (men being at the top of the hierarchy of
7. Internal mental work of individuals facilitates identity construction
8. Gender difference is an ongoing logic of organizations
• Gender and Interactions:
1. Gender is a product of interactions
2. We do gender through performances
3. We focus on biological sex characteristics in the acquisition of socially constructed traits.
• Two types: they both come together for the assignment of gender role identity.
1. Primary sex characteristics are characteristics present at birth.
2. Secondary sex characteristics are sex characteristics that develop at puberty. They are less
decisive than primary.
3. We do gender according to other people’s views
Week 8 part 2A:
Feminism and gender:
• Feminists reject biological and sex roles analysis, instead they identify the social basis of
gender roles (gender is not a role like being a teacher or a sister, it is like a gender or race and is deeper and less changeable), explain the significance of ‘doing gender’ and they
challenge inevitability of institutions
• Focus on women’s lives and their resistance
First wavethf feminism: th
• 19 and early 20 centuries.
• Emphasized women’s legal status and eventually they took on many social issues.
• Tended to avoid dramatic statements about social construction
• Women in many countries did not have legal protection from abuse, property rights
within marriage or parental rights
• Taken on by feminists from Europe and America
• Argued that women’s heightened moral sense made them ideal candidates for the public
• Limitations place upon women came from the way they were raised, educated, treated
and excluded from many societal benefits and institutions
Second wave of feminism:
• 1960s and 1970s.
• A social movement and body of theory developed after the Second World War.
• Particular to western societies.
• Idea that one is not born but becomes women
• Men had defined themselves in opposition to women
• Defects of women are not causes by their nature but by the influences of society.
Third wave feminism:
• Late 1980 and 1990s.
• Peak of feminist activism
• Critiques what it sees as the universalizing tendencies of second wave and incorporates
the insights of postmodern, colonial and multiracial feminism.
• Trying to clean up what they missed in the second wave.
Liberal feminist perspective:
• Most mainstream form of secondwave feminism
• Focusing on the reform of society to make it as gender neutral as possible
• Emphasizes safe legal abortion, an end to legal discrimination, shared parenting and
housework and political and workplace equality
• Benefits: recognition of women and equal opportunities. Women today would not be
were they are had the rights not been fought for.
• Criticism is they accept the status quo
Socialist and Marxist feminism:
• Argued that economy was the heart of women’s previous oppressions as a sex class
• Economy, law and culture all play a role in the subordination of women
• Benefits: offers a holistic analysis; saying it is more than lack of opportunity and we must
look at every issue.
• Limitation: excludes marginalized groups and their experiences
Radical Feminism: • Argues that patriarchy and in particular its control over women’s sexuality is the root of
women’s secondclass status.
• Instead of fighting for economic and legal rights they need to combat patriarchal violence
in the form of rape, domestic abuse and warfare.
• Benefits: women organized themselves for change
• Limitations: women are victims in their relationships with men, focus on global
sisterhood and trapped in essentialism
• Black: triple oppressions of women (gender, race and class), feminism empower
oppressed black men and significance of the family to immigrants and black women.
Week 8 part 2B:
Concept of patriarchy:
• New concept of patriarchy:
1. Includes men and women as a shared responsibility
2. Men and women produce and reproduce the patriarchal system
1. Different expectations for men and women
2. Both men and women adopt attitudes of ‘paths of least resistance’ therefore they are
unable to challenge the system
• Women received the names: Crone, Witch, Bitch, Virgin which all lead to inequalities and
• Men use what is good and desirable to create social hierarchies: Image of god, strength,
knowledge and capitalism
• Reproduction of Patriarchy:
1. Statuses, networks and role performance
2. Patriarchy exists through us
3. Patriarchy changes over time and we have the freedom to break the rules to dismantle or
destroy the patriarchal system
History and characteristics of Masculinities:
Era Masculinity Characteristics Later 18 early 19th The Genteel Patriarch • Typical European
• Rural and landowner
• Family man
Late 18 early 19th The Heroic artisan • Urban and enjoys
• Devoted father
• A happy man
1830s The marketplace man • Urban and
• Absentee landlord and
• Capitalist, anxious,
agitated, restless and
Week 9 Gender and Social institutions: the Family
Definition, features and significance of institutions:
1. an enduring set of ideas about how to accomplish goals generally recognized as important
in a society.
2. It defines the core of social life: the family, religion, economy, education, politics and
1. They are differentiated by their functions
2. They are external to the individual and they shape and are shaped by individuals
participation in them
1. Shapes human experience
2. Rules generate behaviors
3. Accepted forms of behavior are institutionalized
Factors influencing family formation in Canada:
Historical • Migration and settlement
• Women’s demands
• Characteristics of the population
• Post WW 2 impact
Economic • Industrialization
• Trade, globalization and paid work
Construction of the nuclear family in Canada:
• Nuclear families were imported to Canada from Europe Gendered Family:
• Impact on women’s reproductive role: there was a preference for white middleclass
women, working class and coloured women were rejected
• Race suicide: largescale immigration flooded North America with nonBritish
immigrants. Gave the white people the fear of women having sexual relationships with
nonwhite people and spread nonwhite children.
• Housework belongs to women
• Childcare belongs to women
• Socialization is the acquisition of gender skills, socially approved behavior, mother’s
weaning of boys and gender segregation
Contemporary family issues:
Daycare • 19702004 (both conservative and
liberal governments were unable to
provide adequate daycare facilities)
Fatherlessness and lone parenting • Assumption: inability of mothers to
raise their sons
• Feminization of poverty and
masculinization of irresponsibility
Teenage Pregnancy • Control of women’s sexua