The society establishes different expectations and requirements to the gender roles and behavioral patterns. Though the sociological studies have already concluded about the social character of the concept of gender, it is still possible to observe significant differences in the attitudes and approaches to the male and female patterns of acting, thinking and behaving. In this light, the theory of sociological imagination helps to understand practical everyday implications of gender-based roles and explain the mechanisms of creation of the existed gender stereotypes and ideas. The aim of this paper is to provide an insight into the principles of the gender socialization, discuss the role of social institutions in this process and define the link between the gender-based personal behavior and sociological imagination.
Role of Social Institutions in Gender Socialization
To start with, it is important to outline the theory of sociological imagination, which assists in interpreting of the correlations between the gender-based behavior and influences of the social institutions. This theory claims that individuals tend to perceive themselves through the general system of the socially accepted standards, norms and types of behavior. In other words, the self-perception and self-identity is the result of the imposed external influences, impacts and effects, typical for a certain society or community. The sociological imagination explains why individuals tend to stick to certain patterns of behavior and imagine themselves exclusively in the light of particular social traditions, norms and standards.
The sociological imagination highly assists in understanding the gender roles and gender socialization of individuals. It is a common knowledge that there are drastic differences in the attitudes to the male and female gender behaviors, caused by the social stereotypes, implications and expectations. Particularly, a great role in this process belongs to the family as the initial social institution. From the very moment of birth, the girls and boys are supposed to wear cloths of different colors, play with different toys and demonstrate different emotions and feelings. For example, girls are expected to wear pink dresses, play with the dolls and be patient, modest, moderate and obedient. On the contrary, the boys are supposed to wear blue colors, play with the cars and robots and behave actively, eagerly and stubbornly. All these implications contribute to the individual self-perception and self-identity and form the basics of future adult behavior and outlook.
Analogically, the gender-based differences in the individual behavior are the results of the religious and cultural impacts. Particularly, many religions confess the dominant role of the men, granting them with the possibility to become priests, act as the leaders and perform he supreme duties and tasks. On the contrary, the women are viewed primarily as wives and mothers, whose tasks are limited to the childbirth and childcare. Similarly, many cultures, based on the religious backgrounds, follow this gender division and impose various roles on females and males. Evidently, this strategy leads to the inappropriate consideration of gender roles and infliction of strict limitations on both sexes.
Thirdly, it is important to mention about the employment and career choices as the social institutions, which affect the gender roles within a community. Many societies still tend to divide job preferences into male (politics, sports, sciences) and female (nursing, teaching, and cooking). These divisions lead to threatening outcomes and results. Men, working in the social services or nursing, are viewed as more qualified and reliable. On the contrary, women, who occupy traditionally male positions, often face the glass ceiling and cannot reach any significant promotions or occupation of the leading and executive posts. As a result, the existence of the gender-based roles may negatively affect the gender socialization of individuals and restrict their choices, preferences and opportunities in different spheres of social life.
In my case, the gender socialization highly depended on the family background and upbringing. In particular, my parents have frequently emphasized the necessity to behave like a girl, watch the corresponding cartoons, play with the female peers and hide up the emotions of anger, disappointment or irritation. Moreover, the observation of the media outlets and television shows amplified my imaginations about the female roles and made me behave in a like manner. In this light, I can directly trace the influence of the sociological imagination, as I attempted to fit the requirements of the community and meet its expectations.
The Effects of Violation of Gender-Based Roles
Since the gender socialization may be quite limiting and restricting, it is not surprising that many individuals try to confront these ideas and violate the commonly accepted gender forms and types of behavior. Thus, it is possible to speak about the transgender, who do not identify themselves with exclusively female or male characteristics. The representatives of the queer community also tend to perceive them as both females and males or as a third gender at all. The cases of violation of gender socialization can be also observed among the homosexual individuals, as well. This happens due to the individual preferences in lifestyle and outlook, desire to protests against the social system or satisfy the demand in self-actualization, in such a way. In any case, the isolation of the gender-based roles and expectations lead to the considerable effects in the structure of self-identity and identification of such individuals.
The violation of the gender socialization can result in the false perception of the individuals by the community members and their inappropriate identification in the society. In particular, such individual may encounter harassments, abuses or offenses, concerned with their differences and violation of the gender-based patterns of behavior. In its turn, such attitudes may result in the lowered self-esteem, self-confidence and self-perception, which also highly deteriorate the emotional and psychological health of the individuals. The practice also shows that individuals, who violate the gender socialization, may encounter difficulties with finding an employment ad building the interpersonal relationships with other people. Overall, the conclusion is that the violation of the gender roles result in the significant deterioration of the emotional health of individuals and quality of their identification by other community members.
The Influence of Gender Socialization on the Personality
There are different approaches, which identify the influence of the cultural and gender socialization on the formation of individuality and personality. To start with, the very expectations to the gender vary across the cultures, so it is virtually impossible to make the universal conclusions concerned with the direct correlations between the gender socialization and personality traits. In Western civilization, the division of society and social tasks into feminine and masculine results in the strict limitations of both sexes and establishment of the rigid models and patterns of behavior. Evidently, such a division directly influences the formation of personal worldview and self-identity. For instance, the vast majority of women view themselves as the caregivers, mothers and wives, finding their destiny in taking care of children, housework and welfare of their husbands. Moreover, commonly, women are expected to get married and self-actualize themselves in the marital life. Therefore, such effects of the gender socialization contribute to the formation of the relevant qualities, traits and characteristics of personality, which help the individual to adjust to the social expectations.
When speaking about the men, the gender socialization expects them to seek self-realization in the employment, demonstrate dominant patterns of behavior and show determinacy, self-confidence and persuasion in their actions. Apparently, any kinds of emotionality and expressiveness find a negative feedback from the society, since the community tends to condemn such manifestations of femininity. As a result, the men tend to develop such traits of personality, which find the positive responses form the society and meet its requirements and demands. However, such a situation does not mean that all men are equally satisfied with such roles and obligations.
Therefore, the gender socialization performs strong influences on the development of personality traits and modifies the individual outlook, according to the stereotypes and values of a certain society. Respectively, the individuals tend to adopt their worldviews and lifestyles to the existed implications to be able to fit into a certain social system.
To sum up, the gender socialization is the process of acquisition of the gender-based roles and models of behavior by individuals, who belong to a certain social community. The influence of media, religion, culture, family and education highly contribute to the division of the gender tasks and formation of the gender-binary society with the strict differentiation between male and female, and masculine and feminine. As a result, according to the theory of sociological imagination, the individuals tend to associate themselves with the certain gender-based roles and follow the stereotypic types of behavior, imposed by the society. In many cases, such a rigid division of roles highly influences the personality and self-identity of individuals. Furthermore, the violation or unacceptance of the conventional gender roles may result in the serious consequences on the emotional and psychological health of the individuals. In this light, the conclusion is that the gender socialization strongly affect the personality of individuals and act as the social regulator and intermediary of collective behavior and worldview.