Theoretical Foundation of Gender as a Culturally-Prescribed Role

Vast majority of investigations concerning gender and its characteristics in comparison to biological sex are dated at the beginning of the 1970s, when the necessity to identify the difference between sex and gender turned out to be crucial (Holmes, 2007). Inability to take into consideration all influential factors led to a number of difficulties in a chosen field. Hence, the question of gender roles remains to be unsolved till now. Floyd (2006) proposes to define sex as the difference between biological males and females, meanwhile, gender is a possibility to define masculinity and femininity by means of culturally-prescribed roles.

Researchers offered several approaches to investigate true nature of gender and its role (Liamputtong, 2007). However, taking into consideration the fact that gender roles as well as sex roles are considered to be “an individual’s endorsement of personal characteristics, occupations and behaviors” (DeBiaggi, 2002, p.39), it is possible to believe that psychosocial approach as well as biological approach should play a leading role in the chosen question.

For example, psychosocial approach will help to understand all psychological processes in both male and female, taking into account the existed relations, situations, and health. Chosen approach should define the value of an individual not as a biological unit but as a culturally-prescribed unit with ability to self-determination, by means of which decisions could be made (Newman & Newman, 2008).

The biological approach may become one of the reliable methods in the research under consideration. Though the issue of gender as a culturally-prescribed role is hard to investigate by means of biological methods, it is possible to evaluate biological sex as something not culturally-prescribed. Identification of chemical substances in males and females promotes the identification of sex as a biological role but not as culturally-prescribed.

Finally, the attention to social cognitive ideas and behavioral differences between men and women should be paid. It is better to focus on adolescence due to the fact that socialization is the main factor that defines culturally-prescribed roles. Goldenberg and Goldenberg (2007, p. 75) say that “men and women are reared with different expectations, experiences, attitudes, goals, and opportunities, and these differences influence later culturally prescribed roles patterns in family relations”. The chosen approach should focus on the interactions, which are usually identified as an important factor in the analysis of gender. Men and women face different challenges and have to meet various expectations. This is why it is necessary to take environment into consideration along with representatives of different gender groups as well as their behavior and possibilities. It is a clear fact that men and women can not gain the same level of recognition in society, and a number of cultural, social, and even religious norms have to be considered. That is why social cognitive approach should be also used in the chosen investigation.

In general, the evaluation of three identified approaches may be regarded as a helpful item. It is not enough to admit that certain biological or social norms will identify gender as a culturally-prescribed aspect. It is also important to explain why biological sex can not perform the same functions and why such closely connected terms like gender and sex can not be confused or substituted with each other. The study under analysis should be holistic in order to examine and conclude that gender and biological sex have different characteristics.

Reference List

DeBiaggi, S. D. D. (2002). Changing gender roles: Brazilian immigrant families in the U.S. New York: LFB Scholarly Publishing.

Floyd, K. (2006). Communicating affection: Interpersonal behavior and social context. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Goldenberg, H. & Goldenberg, I. (2007). Family therapy: An overview. Belmont: Cengage Learning.

Holmes, M. (2007). What is gender?: Sociological approaches. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications.

Liamputtong, P. (2007). Reproduction, childbearing and motherhood: a cross-cultural perspective. New York: Nova Publisher.

Newman, B. M. & Newman, P. R. (2008). Development through life: A psychological approach. Belmont: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

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