Gender Roles Shaped By Culture

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Gender Roles: Shaped by Culture Enforced by Society The term culture itself encompasses many different characteristics, such as, values, beliefs, and practices. These characteristics in turn are extremely broad themselves. It is no wonder that there are differences between cultures; however, there are also some similarities. How do intelligence, child-rearing, interpersonal attraction, emotional experiences, or even gender roles compare across different cultures? Are they similar, or are they extremely different? It all depends on what culture or cultures you are looking at, and they are numerous. Some cultures are more similar than others, for example, the United States and Great Britain. However, others are extremely different, such as the…show more content…
One perspective is that gender roles serve a function. Under the idea of functionalism, society is made up of several different parts that help keep society balanced at equilibrium. Functionalists emphasize social control and stability, and believe that “harmony is maximized, and families benefit when spouses assume complementary, specialized, non-overlapping roles” (Lindsey, 2011, p. 6). In other words, mom does the cooking and cleaning, while dad goes to work and mows the lawn. Another theory, known as conflict theory, involves society being maintained by one social class exerting power over another. Conflict theory stems from the ideas of Karl Marx, who critiqued capitalism as a whole. He believed that the working class was controlled by the powerful few. Concerning gender, this would put men in the role of the powerful few, and women in the role of the working class, or those being controlled. Conflict theory can be applied to many different types of relationships, for example, parent and child, husband and wife, and/or worker and employer (Lindsey,…show more content…
However, not one by itself can explain it all; instead, these theories are intertwined together. It is true that culture does play a major role in shaping gender roles. Despite most cultures having different roles for men and women, gender differences were nonexistent in early research by psychologists. Carol Gilligan believed that “factors of social status and power combine with reproductive biology to shape the experience of males and females and the relations between the sexes” (Mio, Barker, & Tumambing, 2012, p. 28). Research has shown that men and women do think and speak differently; however, does that mean they must take on different roles, such as with
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