This essay examines social construction and makes a comparison between the social construction of gender approach and the biological approach. It goes on to demonstrate how sports serves as a tool for social construction of gender and looks at the punk and hardcore scene comparing it to sports in the context of social construction of gender. The essay also examines the issue of how economic, social and cultural approaches to class explain the differences in education in the American society.
The social construction of gender is the shaping of how a person behaves based on the environment, family or effect of the society. In this approach we look at how one is affected into acting one way or the other by factors that are not limited to that person’s either being male or female (Channels, 56-76). Gender and sex are always confused and used interchangeably but in fact they mean two different things all together. Sex can be simplified to mean the attributes of either being male or female in a biological sense. Gender on the other hand refers to the attributes socially constructed that make one male or female, or of masculinity and femininity. Women and men are not treated equally on the basis of their sex and this is what brings about the gender issue (Fields,65-75).
Society expects men and women to behave in certain ways. That societal expectation of people to conform to the standards expected of them and the process of bringing it about, that conditioning is what is could be referred to as social construction of gender. Biologically, the definition is simply sex, one is either male or female and that is where the difference between the biological approach to understanding gender and the social conditioning approach differ (Bell, 24-45)
The biological approach puts a lot of emphasis on getting inside the black box, which is to say that the structure of an organism should be looked from the internal structure perspective. This approach is not concerned with studying how one has been affected by other external factor which is a limitation because we can not explain everything solely on the basis of the brain. The biological approach seems to be contradictory because it purports that for a person to drastically change his behavior, he must either have experienced abuse as a child, have a mental ailment or his brain has been damaged through a physical way. The contradiction is that considering one being abused as a child is taking past experiences into consideration and that goes against what the approach stands for (Williams, 134-56).
Sports illustrate the social construction of gender in that from a tender age, boys are taught and encouraged to play different games from the ones girls play. In fact, sports are expected to be an interest of a male child while girls are supposed to embrace the role of being spectators at best (MacRae, 120-156) . Boys like to show the image of toughness and from a tender age, they are conditioned to look at sports as the best place where theycan make a perfect demonstration of that fact. In a baseball game a boy who can’t properly grasp the art of throwing the ball is ridiculed with terms such as ‘you throw like a girl. God forbid if a boy can not kick a football properly.
Sports sought of give men the opportunity to be ‘men’. Going to the Sunday football game is seen as the essence of being a man. The male bonding in the name of sports where women are some sort of intruders unless they are cheerleaders and at the game for the men’s eyes (Saxe, 129-135). After all, even in a Lakers basket ball game or at the super bowl, the occasional and timely sort of commercial of a nice female body is a plus to feed the man’s ego and make the game complete. Sport is the man thing and as long as that image remains, sports can truly be considered to be a good example of social construction of gender and a perfect illustration of this concept (Purvis & Hales, 45-58).
The punk and hardcore scene is comparable to social construction of gender in that in its beginning, it was an effort for its pioneers to defy conformity and not to fit into what was socially viewed as the ideal. By so doing, we find that the punk and hardcore scene as described in American hardcore and pretty in punk became a unique genre despite being seen as a misfit. It compares to sport in that it is viewed like a particular type of people are the ones who have a rightful claim to it just like sports is viewed as a rightful domain for men
There are similarities in comparison to the social construction of gender in that just like males and females are expected to conform to certain aspects that are viewed as normal and to practice what they are expected to, the same goes for the punk and hardcore scene. It also illustrates the issue of gender differences as those who practiced it were viewed differently from those who didn’t and in the same way, it shows gender inequality due to the unequal treatment dealt on both (Homans, 240-256).
Economic factors determine what priority people place in education and determine whether one will pursue an education or not. In other instances though, the economic class at times means that or else dictates that even when one wants to get an education and would really desire to do so, the fact that he cannot afford means that he wont pursue it (Foster et al, 12-20) . Economic class also determines how much funding is given to education and this means that some districts get more funding than others meaning that the schools in the different districts will not have the same facilities as they do not have the same kind of access to the funding that would make them equal (Oakes, 145-65).
In districts that have less funding and hence poor facilities in the schools, students from those districts may choose not to attend school due to the fact that the facilities are poor. In economically well off districts, funding of the schools is taken as a priority and siince the schools have better facilities, these facilities become a motivation for people to get an education (Angus, 15-27). Research has shown that poor districts also have inexperienced and poorly paid teachers whose low motivation means poorer quality of education for the children of those poor districts (Marx, 302-315).
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The social background of individuals also determines their outlook on education and is a determinant on how much importance they place on education. A general observation has been that school age children from homes with parents who are educated and hence associate with a certain class which comprises of educated people too tend to be more successful in school than school going children from homes with people of a social class that doesn’t value education (Yeager, 134-76).
In a social grouping, the members of those groups ranging from one to the other group do not view education the same way and this transfers to their children as one is exposed to the social circles of his parents because that determines for example where one lives and in effect which schools he will be likely to attend (Turner, 96-103). This brings inequality in that people of higher social circles associate education with sophistication and polishing of manners which are desirable attributes and are therefore likely to place the emphasis on education and instill the value in their children. Children from lower social circles will not receive an education equal to that of their peers and there lies the inequality (Holsinger, 120-129).
Cultural background is an unfortunate but true determinant of whether children of parents who belong to a class on the basis of culture or ethnic background get an education or not. You find that due to a person’s background he might be a minority in a certain area and going to a school where one feels segregated because he is not like everybody else can be a psychological blow to that person’s attitude to education and school as a whole. Where one is the centre of attention due to his difference from everyone else, he would view the undue attention as an impediment to his desire to study (Yeager, 134-76).
It has been found out through research that the student population of Hispanic origin has been growing the fastest at an annual rate of ten percent. This shows that previously, this group could have been ignoring education or have started putting more emphasis on the need to acquire and education now. Research has shown that the poorest schools are attended by children from particular ethnic backgrounds and that the dropout rates in those schools is at least six times higher than in those schools that can be considered to be well off (Sayer, 23-45) .
In conclusion there is no doubt that the economic, social and cultural approach to class are a determinant factor in education inequality and also that all these approaches sort of seem to mould into one and conspiring against particular people in terms of acquiring an education.
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