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Essentialist vs. Social Constructionist Approach

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Essentialist vs. Social Constructionist Approach

Page 1 of 5
Essentialist vs. Social Constructionist Approach

In Society, people are classified according to many aspects whether it is by gender, race, or class. People are treated differently depending on these identities in their everyday lives. An Essentialist approach argues that people are born to fulfill these different statuses, that it is a natural order from their genes that classify them into these different groups. On the other hand, a social constructionist would argue that through society and the interaction with other people these statuses are created.

One of the most obvious master statuses is gender. In the article “ Night To His Day: The social construction of gender” the author discusses the difference between sex and gender; sex being the difference between male and female and gender being the difference between man and woman. Sex is an essentialist term because people are born either male or female depending on whether they have a penis or a vagina. As soon as a person is born, the sex is determined; this is when through society gender comes into play. Through the way people are dressed, are they way they act or even by their names, people are constantly doing gender. In society you can tell the difference between a man and a woman by these different characteristics because of the meanings that society has given to them. For example because of society, it is socially okay for a woman to wear a skirt oppose to a man wearing one because society says so. An Essentialist will argue that because that woman is born a female that it is okay for her to wear that skirt but a Social Constructionist would argue that because of society and the meaning it has giving to that skirt that it is okay for the woman to wear the skirt. It’s not just because of that woman’s reproductive organ that it’s acceptable for her to wear that skirt, but because of the social construction of the word “female” that society has created. In the documentary “The Mother hood...