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Examining gender as a social structure

By Travis-Tucker Nov 16, 2014 473 Words

Sociology of Gender

Examining gender as a social structure and applying gender roles poses many challenges when explaining the phenomenon of social stratification. Barbara J. Riseman explores many expanses of gender and theories’ arguing the issues and importances a social structure has on gender outcomes. Riseman discusses the four distinct social scientific theoretical traditions that explain gender: individual sex, whether it be social or biological; social structure creates gendered behavior; social interaction and accountability to others’ expectations; and how gender creates inequality and acts on gender as a socially constructed stratification system. Gender is a major slice of every social process in everyday life within every social situation and I imagine that gender accounts for inequalities society has on the opposite sex and it’s that inequality that is dependent on gender within social hierarchy. One view suggests that as long as there are two genders and those genders see themselves anatomically different, women will be unable to have the same life opportunities as men. Flaws can be found in this particular theory, one of which is if both genders experience indistinguishable fundamental conditions and role expectations then recognizable gender differences would disappear. Giddens’s structuration theory explains how social structure shape individuals and at the same time individuals shape social structure. The research performed to help understand gender equality and gender as a social structure is complex and has many variables. It is this complexity that makes it so difficult to determine the gender specificities that account for the inequality in socially constructed stratification systems and within these systems the social hierarchy. Individuals determine change within these social systems and therefore the individuals who enact change govern them. Individual identities are also molded in distinctive ways and the individual experiences will determine how these social systems will change. Individual identity and social stratification are also dependent on specific social systems. Culture also accounts for an imperative role in gender inequality. One culture may have very high esteem for one sex and others just the opposite. It is these cultural differences that will also determine specific gender identity and cause stratification in rippling effects to the social systems involved as a result of different cultural expectations. All together physical gender, individual identity, culture, and specific social systems are key ingredients that govern the stratification of specific social structures. These structures are dependent on gender specific social hierarchy, which is governed by the social system itself and coordinated by each individual within the system. Individuals are dependent on social structure and gender is deeply embedded in the stratification of those particular structures. Depending on the situation, social stratification can be regarded as having an infinite amount of possible outcomes dependent on individual life experiences. Social hierarchy is likely the underlying component in the social stratification that is gender specific causing the inequality in society.

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