Explain what scholars mean by “the social construction of gender.”
Assignment: The Social Construction Gender
In 2-3 pages,
1) Explain what scholars mean by “the social construction of gender.” This should be in your own words. Imagine you are explaining it to a family member or friend who is not taking this course.
2) Introduce your case study: tell us something about the topic you have chosen and why it matters. Use at least two scholarly sources to give us this context. You are welcome to pull from the textbook, including Works Cited and Suggested Readings and Videos on pp. 83-88, for sources.
3) Apply the social construction of gender to your topic. Be specific and detailed.
4) Some of the case studies in the book lack strong conclusions. We can do better! Use the conclusion to reiterate your key points and make a lasting impression on the reader.
The social construction of gender is a theory in feminism and sociology about the operation of gender and gender differences in societies. According to this view, society and culture create gender roles, and these roles are prescribed as ideal or appropriate behavior for a person of that specific sex.
Some supporters of this idea argue that the differences in behavior between men and women are entirely social conventions, whereas others believe that behavior is influenced by universal biological factors to varying degrees, with social conventions having a major effect on gendered behavior.
The roots of the social constructionist movement in psychology are related to the criticism of the objectivism assumed by positivist/empiricist concepts of knowledge (Gergen, 1985). Among the most popular variations of the social constructionist theories is the gender role theory, considered by Alsop, Fitzsimons and Lennon (2002) as an early form of social constructionism. The focus on power and hierarchy reveals inspiration stemming from a Marxist framework, utilized for instance by materialist feminism, and Foucault’s writings on discourse. Social constructionism, briefly, is the concept that there are many things that people “know” or take to be “reality” that are at least partially, if not completely, socially situated. For example, Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker writes that “some categories really are social constructions: they exist only because people tacitly agree to act as if they exist. Examples include money, tenure, citizenship, decorations for bravery, and the presidency of the United States.”
The basic assumptions of social constructionism, as described by Marecek, Crawford & Popp, are:
Social constructionism is a theory of knowledge. Social constructionism focuses on how meaning is created. Emerging from the criticism of objectivity, social constructionism challenges concepts of knowledge put forward by positivism, which postulates the externality of reality and that empirically-proved truths are mind-independent. According to Marecek, Crawford & Popp, knowledge is an “account of reality produced collaboratively by a community of knowers” Thus, social constructionism focuses on how meaning is created.
Knowledge is a social product. According to Marecek, Crawford & Popp, knowledge is an “account of reality produced collaboratively by a community of knowers”. Thus, social constructionists focus on how meaning is created and suggest that knowledge is not only a social product, but a product of a specifically situated society; various accounts of reality depend on place and time – in order to study knowledge as a social product, one has to historicize and contextualize the given description of reality.
Power and hierarchy underlie social construction. This focus results in showing how individuals differ in status, entitlement, efficacy, self-respect and other traits based on the kind of interactions one is involved in and subjected to.