Family, Religion, and Gender Perception
How are gender roles learned? Gender itself refers to the socially constructed attributions that a given society considers appropriate for men and women and the outward expressions of what society considers “masculine” or “feminine.” In many ways, gender, in response to changing generational attitudes and societal norms and expectations, is neither innate nor necessarily stable. It can be defined by society and expressed by individuals as they interact with others and media, because whether an individual is born biologically male or female, they learn to act in masculine or feminine ways (Wood 2011). Previous research has found that individuals form gender roles in many numerous and differing ways. This area of research on gender role socialization is important to the daily life of people living in the United States and worldwide. Gender role is constantly evolving throughout different generations of families and affects the way individuals gain success, raise their children, and even view themselves and their inherent worth as an individual. Previous research has suggested that familial structure and a family’s religious affiliation has a huge influence on gender role attitudes, whether it be a direct or indirect reinforcement of sex-based roles from religious teaching or differing styles of parenting across families (Carlson and Knoester 2011; Davis and Willis 2010; Leve and Fagot 1997; Marks, Lam, and McHale 2009; Piela 2010; Seguino 2011; Witt 1997; Wright and Young 1998). Similarly, research has suggested that more fundamental religious beliefs lead to a more traditional view of gender roles involving men as breadwinners of the household and women responsible for domestic duties and as caregivers to their children (Civettini and Glass 2008; Piela 2010; Price 2008; Seguino 2011). More research notes that family discipline processes and gender-role socialization are generally hypothesized to differ between one- and two-parent families, between mothers and fathers, and between families with daughters and families with sons (Carlson and Knoester 2011; Davis and Willis 2010; Leve and Fagot 1997; Marks et. al. 2009; Witt 1997; Wright and Young 1998). Social scientists have also speculated that gender-role socialization processes differ in males and females significantly, with adult men are more likely to demonstrate gender-typed attitudes than adult women (Leve and Fagot 1997). This, along with other sources in this review, is a clear indication that gender research is undoubtedly complex, varies over time, and is very diverse in practice and use of theory. The purpose of our research, however, is to understand the effect that religious affiliation and familial structure have on an individual’s perception of gender roles and gender role attitudes and the extent to which those factors have an impact. More specifically, how does an individual’s religious affiliation and their familial structure affect their perception on gender roles? Theory
Research on gender socialization has been studied from numerous perspectives and theories that view the learning of gender roles in various ways. Social learning theory emphasizes the importance of observational learning and claims that an individual learns to be either “masculine” or “feminine” primarily by imitating others’ behaviors and highlights parents’ roles as instructors, reinforcers, and models of gender role attitudes. Various sources have used social learning theory to explain why an individual learns gender roles differently than another person by questioning an individual’s environment and how gender is portrayed within that environment (Carlson and Knoester 2011; Davis and Willis 2010). The issue of gender socialization has been researched in the past primarily from this perspective of social learning or socialization, which are the processes that teach a person the norms of their society. A socialization...
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