Gender As A Social Structure Essay example

Gender As A Social Structure Essay example

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In “Gender as a Social Structure: Theory Wrestling with Activism”, the author Barbara Risman explains her theory to readers about how gender should be thought of as a social structure. Thinking of it as such would allow people to examine how gender is ingrained in almost every part of society, thus putting gender on an equal level of importance with economics and politics. In society, gender dictates many of the opportunities and limitations that an individual may face in his or her lifetime. Barbara Risman points out the three aspects of the gender structure that happen at an individual, interactional, and institutional level (Risman, pg. 446). First, gender contributes to how a person will develop themselves in life. This is the “individual level”. At an interactional level, men and women face different expectations that are set by society. The individual and interactional level are linked because sometimes, changes to one level can affect the other. The third level, the institutional level, notes that gender is affected by laws, rules, and organizational practices that dictate what we do. The institutional level also analyzes how stuff is distributed based on gender. All three of these levels work together in a way that basically dictates the way society behaves in terms of gender and how gender is affected on a cultural basis.
For my research, I went to Walmart to examine just how much gender differences are accentuated amongst regular, everyday goods we can buy from the store. To a person not paying much attention, there may not be as pronounced of differences between different products, but if one pays close attention, even the simplest items seem to have been affected by existing gender stereotypes and roles. My first task...


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..., I came to my own conclusion that often times, large corporations and stores, such as Walmart, tend to have their merchandise separated by gender. I’m not 100% sure this is deliberate, but you can definitely tell that gender is an important factor in how they run their businesses. Every single age was affected by gender, from babies to elderly people. From my understanding, this would be on the institutional level of the gender structure. As stated in the excerpt, “…institutional domains where explicit regulations regarding resource distribution and material goods are gender specific” (Risman, pg. 433). These material goods are being marketed in different ways and for different prices to each gender. Gender is a large part of our society and culture. It dictates how items are marketed towards both genders, and places us into gender roles whether we like it or not.

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