Examine the ways in which sociologists can contribute to our understanding of how social identity is shaped by gender.
The term identity refers to who we are; this is made up of how we see ourselves and how others see us. Gender is the term which describes the cultural expectations attached to a person’s sex. Social identity is based on one's membership to particular groups in society. This essay will examine the way in which sociologists contribute to our understanding by providing theories and ideas of how social identity is shaped by gender. Ann Oakley, a feminist sociologist suggested that there are four ways in which gender socialization takes place during primary socialization. These are manipulation, canalization, verbal appellations, and different activities. Manipulation is when parents encourage behaviour that is seen as normal for the child's sex and discourage the behaviour associated with the opposite sex. For example, mothers may encourage girls to pay more attention to their appearance than boys. Canalisation is when children are 'channelled' by their parents towards toys and activities seen as appropriate for their sex. For instance, girls may be given toys such as dolls and miniature kitchen that encourage an interest in being a mother and doing housework. Of course, boys may get these toys as well, but they are more likely to have 'boy toys' like trains and cars and so on. Verbal appellations are the ways parents talk to children, this tells them how important at an early age gender is. Examples of such are when they are referred to as, 'good girl', 'naughty boy' or ‘my brave soldier’. Also, boys and girls are encouraged to get involved in different activities. Girls are expected to help their mother indoors while boys get greater freedom to roam and play outdoors. Also, children tend to observe gender differences inside the household, such as the mother usually doing most of the housework and cooking whereas the father tends to...
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