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The Influence of Culture & Socialization on Gender Roles
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The Influence of Culture & Socialization on Gender Roles

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  1. The Influence of Culture & Socialization on Gender Roles Margaret Mead in Papua New Guinea

  2. Margaret Mead • One of the most famous • anthropologists of the 20th century • Preeminent speaker of women’s • rights and a controversial author • Nature or Nurture? • PREDOMINANTLY NURTURE

  3. Margaret Mead • Traveled to Papua New Guinea • 1931 to determine the extent to • which gender roles were the • product of genes or culture • - Published her findings in her book Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies

  4. Mead’s Findings • - Found a different pattern of M/F behavior in each of the cultures she studied • All different from gender role expectations in the United States at that time. • 3 Major Tribes Studied • 1. Arapesh • 2. Mundugumor • 3. Tchambuli

  5. Arapesh • - When Mead arrived in 1931, the people had no official • name for themselves. • - She called them Arapesh • - Arapesh = the tribe’s word for “person” • Found that both males and females were conditioned • to be cooperative, unaggressive and empathetic. • Both men and women behaved more like what we • would consider feminine behavior

  6. Arapesh

  7. Mundugumor • More Aggressive tribe living along the Yuat River • In Contrast to the Arapesh, the Mundgumor people • socialized their youth to be more “masculine” • - aggressive • - ruthless • - relatively unresponsive to needs of others

  8. A Mundugumor mother holding her baby rather indifferent to her own child. Mundugumor

  9. Mundugumor

  10. Tchambuli • Tchambuli contrasted previous two • Arapesh = “standardized females” • Mundugmor = “standardized males” • Tchambuli = opposite of “western idea of gender” • Female • Dominant • Impersonal • Aggressive • Male • Dependent • Submissive

  11. Tchambuli A Tchambuli mother holding her child. Tchambuli women tend to take on the more “masculine” role in tribal society

  12. Conclusions • According to Mead: human nature is flexible enough to rule out biological determination of gender roles • Gender roles are NOT fixed at birth • Individuals can be fairly easily socialized into the gender of the opposite sex You inherit your sex, but you learn your gender

  13. Conclusions “Male and female personalities are socially produced.” • Margaret Mead • American Anthropologist