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Gender Roles - Research Paper Example

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This essay considers the interaction of gender roles and television, broader theories of the emergence of gender roles, and examines gender roles at home and in the workplace. …
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Gender Roles One of the most prominent areas of investigation in terms of feminist and psychological theory are gender roles. There are a variety oframifications gender roles hold for individuals including occupational roles, sexual relations, and even the very construction of personality. There are a variety of theories and contrasting perspectives on the development and maintenance of gender roles. This essay considers the interaction of gender roles and television, broader theories of the emergence of gender roles, and examines gender roles at home and in the workplace. One of the prominent areas gender roles emerge and are modeled is from television. When considering gender roles within this context it’s clear that there are a number of elements that researchers have examined. From an overarching context one of the predominant arguments is that gender roles within television exist as a reflection of dominant social values. While television is a reflection of these dominant social stereotypes of gender, it also actively participates in their construction through in a sense naturalizing their characterization. One of the most pervasive theories in these regards is that presented by Laura Mulvey in her seminal essay ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’. This essay argued that because of the largely male dominated media industry, film and television production is constructed from the perspective of the male. The ramifications this has for gender roles within television is that it reinforces female roles as established by the male ‘gaze’. In addition to Mulvey’s perspective on the production of gender roles in television, researchers have noted a number of pervading trends and stereotypes. One of the most prominent such gender stereotypes occurs in terms of the workplace. While occupational roles for women in society have made great strides throughout the 20th century, television’s production of these roles has not kept pace. In these regards, television depicts males in a wide range of gender roles, while females are generally constricted to occupations with a ‘feminine context’. Such articulations of gender occupations have a naturalizing effect that may even alter real world hiring practices. Another prominent area of concern in terms of gender roles is broader concerns of where they emerge. While a variety of contrasting views on the emergence of gender roles exist, the most predominant theories are social constructionist. Social constructionist theories of gender acknowledge that while there are biological differences between the sexes in large part the roles individuals assume within this context are developed through social interaction. One of the major considerations is that gender roles emerge as a reflection of the individual’s occupation, or broadly speaking what one does. This is a complex consideration as some theoretical assumptions have contended that rather than occupations determining gender roles, it is the workplace that is influenced by external influences that in-turn perpetuates gender stereotypes. These theories argue that the media as an extension of social domination perpetuates the external influences. For instance, gender roles emerge as males attempt to achieve higher salaries or similar rights. While there are a variety of theories, it’s clear that gender roles experience shifts and that the actual constitution of gender roles is a complex interaction of biology and social construction. Another important consideration is whether gender roles in the workplace differ from those at home. When considering these elements there are a variety of gender theories. Perhaps the most prominent such consideration relates to division of labor. This perspective argues that while there are a number of stereotypical gender assumptions the nature of gender roles in this context is largely influenced by the specific occupation of the individual, as well as a function of their relationship with their partner. Still, even as there are structural shifts based on the individual’s workplace occupation, it’s argued that, ““the structural intersection of inequality as it is experienced in the family and in the economy is made possible by the mechanism of gender’s interactional achievement (Fenstermaker & West 8).” In these regards, both the workplace and the home contain stereotypical presentations of gender roles, so that in-large part gender roles at home and in the workplace are the same. In conclusion, this essay considers gender roles in a variety of contexts. In these regards, the interaction of the television and gender roles are examined. The broader theories behind the emergence of gender roles are analyzed. Finally, the essay examines whether there is a difference between gender roles at home and in the workplace. References Fenstermaker, S. & West, C. (2002). ‘’Doing gender, doing difference: Inequality, power, and institutional change.’’ New York, NY; Routledge Read More
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