Gender As Socially Constructed Categories Other chapter (not listed above)

  • Length: 3 pages
  • Sources: 4
  • Subject: Gender and Sexuality
  • Type: Other chapter (not listed above)
  • Paper: #22675050

Excerpt from Other chapter (not listed above) :

Race/Ethnicity or Sex/Gender as Socially Constructed Categories

Sociological ethnicity and race theories have been dictated by the social construct metaphor, which indicates that these theories are ideological groups that serve to conceal the actual social structural principles. The above notion is a problematical one as it ignores the context wherein ethnicity and race function as bases of social significance as well as working material exclusion principles (Smaje, 1997). While gender and sex are words that are frequently employed interchangeably, their meanings are, in fact, different. Sex represents a categorization on the basis of biological dissimilarities -- for instance, dissimilarities between females and males grounded in their physiology or anatomy. On the other hand, gender represents a categorization on the basis of the societal creation and preservation of cultural differences between females and males. That is, gender denotes a social concept pertaining to culture-bound conduct, rules, and roles for, and relations among and between, men and women, girls and boys (LM & DG, 2006).

Graphic showing diversity in people -- by color, race, ethnicity and gender

(Source:; free image, no attribution needed)

Gender Identities

According to researchers, ethnic, racial, gender, class and sexual identities are personalized, flexible, and complex social constructions reflecting a person's socio-historical group and present context. But hardly any empirical studies encapsulate the abstract, richly textured ideas of identity formation, retention and transformation. There are now advanced techniques to evaluate individual identity structures and content. Analyses in the future ought to take into account other groups besides kids or college-goers, delve into other identity functions besides adaptation, wellbeing or self-confidence, and apply longitudinal practices capable of evaluating the multiple social identities of individuals. The definition provided by Richard Ashmore (R., 1990) for the term gender identity is: Gender identity denotes the structured collection of personal gendered identities ensuing when a person integrates biological sex-related information and gender's social construction into an inclusive self-concept. This facet encompasses social and personal traits, talents, hobbies, social relationships, material/physical/biological characteristics, and stylistic and symbolic behaviors. The gender identity of a person differs from gender attitudes and sex stereotypes held by the person. The model proposed by Ashmore is especially helpful in defining every potential element of the gender psychology of people. Furthermore, relationships between various elements may be assessed through presently existent measures of conduct, principles, and qualities (Frable, 1997).

Social constructionists are of the view that gender identity emerges from organized, social constraints. Personal conflict is considered fairly absent in gender identity attainment by scholars belonging to every sub-discipline of psychology (for instance, clinical, social-personality, developmental, etc.). But some people rebuff gender's current social classification system, electing to modify their relation to it, thereby essentially redefining their respective gender identities. There are two models which can help explain the above revision, one of which deals with feminist identity formation, with the other describing a switch from external to internal gender standards (Frable, 1997).

Racial and Ethnic Identities

Ethnicity represents a multifaceted social construct impacting personal identities and…

Sources Used in Document:


Ford, C. L., & Harawa, N. T. (2010). A new conceptualization of ethnicity for social epidemiologic and health equity research. Social Science & Medicine, 1-8.

Frable, D. E. (1997). Gender, racial, ethnic, sexual, and class identities. Annual Review of Psychology.

LM, H., & DG, B. (2006). Sex/Gender, Race/Ethnicity, and Health. In Genes, Behavior, and the Social Environment: Moving Beyond the Nature/Nurture Debate. Washington DC: Institute of Medicine (U.S.) Committee on Assessing Interactions Among Social, Behavioral, and Genetic Factors in Health.

R., A. (1990). Sex, gender and the individual. In Handbook of Personality: Theory and Research, 486-526.

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