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  • Explain the influence of socialization on gender roles in the United States
  • Understand the stratification of gender in major American institutions
  • Describe gender from the view of each sociological perspective
Woman in 1950s or 1960s dress putting coffee on buffet in a formally set family dining room.
Traditional images of American gender roles reinforce the idea that women should be subordinate to men. (Photo courtesy of Sport Suburban/flickr)

Gender and socialization

The phrase “boys will be boys” is often used to justify behavior such as pushing, shoving, or other forms of aggression from young boys. The phrase implies that such behavior is unchangeable and something that is part of a boy’s nature. Aggressive behavior, when it does not inflict significant harm, is often accepted from boys and men because it is congruent with the cultural script for masculinity. The “script” written by society is in some ways similar to a script written by a playwright. Just as a playwright expects actors to adhere to a prescribed script, society expects women and men to behave according to the expectations of their respective gender role. Scripts are generally learned through a process known as socialization, which teaches people to behave according to social norms.

Socialization

Children learn at a young age that there are distinct expectations for boys and girls. Cross-cultural studies reveal that children are aware of gender roles by age two or three. At four or five, most children are firmly entrenched in culturally appropriate gender roles (Kane 1996). Children acquire these roles through socialization, a process in which people learn to behave in a particular way as dictated by societal values, beliefs, and attitudes. For example, society often views riding a motorcycle as a masculine activity and, therefore, considers it to be part of the male gender role. Attitudes such as this are typically based on stereotypes, oversimplified notions about members of a group. Gender stereotyping involves overgeneralizing about the attitudes, traits, or behavior patterns of women or men. For example, women may be thought of as too timid or weak to ride a motorcycle.

A woman riding a pink motorcycle is shown here.
Although our society may have a stereotype that associates motorcycles with men, female bikers demonstrate that a woman’s place extends far beyond the kitchen in modern America. (Photo courtesy of Robert Couse-Baker/flickr)

Gender stereotypes form the basis of sexism. Sexism refers to prejudiced beliefs that value one sex over another. Sexism varies in its level of severity. In parts of the world where women are strongly undervalued, young girls may not be given the same access to nutrition, healthcare, and education as boys. Further, they will grow up believing that they deserve to be treated differently from boys (UNICEF 2011; Thorne 1993). While illegal in the United States when practiced as discrimination, unequal treatment of women continues to pervade social life. It should be noted that discrimination based on sex occurs at both the micro- and macro-levels. Many sociologists focus on discrimination that is built into the social structure; this type of discrimination is known as institutional discrimination (Pincus 2008).

Questions & Answers

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Eke Reply
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Joseph
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nanopartical of organic/inorganic / physical chemistry , pdf / thesis / review
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da
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Bhagvanji
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Giriraj
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
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da
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RAW Reply
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Damian
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Professor
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Professor
Nasa has use it in the 60's, copper as water purification in the moon travel.
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what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
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industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
Damian
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LITNING Reply
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LITNING Reply
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LITNING
scanning tunneling microscope
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Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
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Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
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The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
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Source:  OpenStax, Introduction to sociology for the university of oklahoma. OpenStax CNX. Jan 11, 2013 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11482/1.1
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