Differential socialization: what it is, how it happens and what effects does it have

It’s no secret that men and women are educated differently. Even having attended the same school, being in the same family, or watching the same media, people learn that we have to behave in one way or another based on the sex we were assigned at birth. .

Through different agents of socialization, we assign different characteristics and roles to men and women, phenomenon known as differential socialization, which is the main promoter of gender inequalityeven in a subtle and invisible way.

Then we will talk more about this phenomenon, not only to know what it is but also to understand that to fight injustices we must first be aware of the differential treatment that we show depending on whether the person in front of us is. a man or a woman .

    What is differential socialization?

    People internalize attitudes, values, expectations and behaviors characteristic of the society in which we live. Through this process of acquiring important role models for society, we become individuals who learn to develop. Depending on whether or not socially accepted guidelines are followed, the individual will be rewarded or penalized based on their behavior.

    One of the phenomena that shape our society is differential socialization, which causes people to acquire different identities according to the idea of ​​gender in their culture. Differential socialization involves cognitive, behavioral and attitudinal styles, as well as different moral codes depending on the sex of the individual.. This process leads to the creation of stereotypical norms assigned to individual behavior with reference to gender.

    It is a long learning process, initiated from birth and continued throughout life through interaction with other people. The individual assimilates visions based on the behaviors to adopt according to the gender assigned to him at birth.

    This differential socialization is what teaches men that the idea of ​​masculinity is public life, aggression, activity and reasoning, while for women the idea of ​​femininity is privacy, tranquility, freedom. passivity and sentimentality.

    Differential socialization drinks a lot of sexual typification. This typification would be the process by which the individual acquires sexually typed patterns of behavior, constitutes a vast system of customs that begins at birth such as, for example, orientation by pink and blue, language, body adornments. such as earrings, storybooks, games, songs …

      Promoters of differential socialization

      Although practically any social agent contributes to the differential socialization between men and women, we can highlight the following three as main ones:

      1. Family

      The family is of course the first agent of socialization and the one which exerts the most influence on the individual.. Through it, cultural patterns, feelings, attitudes and values ​​are acquired. Since family influences are the ones that occur first, this makes them the most persistent.

      Although family models have changed and evolved throughout history, the idea of ​​traditional or nuclear family continues to be a model of production and reproduction. This type of family fulfills a biological function, reproductive, a social function, socialization and an affective function, emotional support. The father is conceived as the one who brings the money home and the mother who provides emotional support.

      Parents are primarily responsible for the direct and differential reinforcement of sexually typed behaviors of sons or daughters. Imitation of the behaviors of others in the family it is a powerful vehicle for acquiring gender roles in the family (eg grandparents, uncles, older siblings, family friends …).

        2. Education and recreation

        The traditional education system was originally designed with male students in mind. In fact, education in the West was originally a male privilege, which still happens in countries lagging behind in gender equality. Although women were allowed access to education, the education system at virtually all levels continues to drink from an androcentric point of view, even in mixed environments.

        In today’s education, man is still considered the measure of all things. Added to this is what has been called the “hidden curriculum”, made up of preconceived notions or prejudices and stereotypes that contain a number of beliefs about what social relations between the sexes are or should be and what that is meant by model of femininity and model. of masculinity.

        The representation of female and male figures is not equal in education. Girls have been educated mainly with content, texts and images in which women are rarely present, so they have no female role models or references to reflect.

        The games taught to girls scare them away from taking positions of leadership, influence and competitiveness. Women’s games are aimed at taking care of and taking on a role associated with the house, such as cooking games, dolls or rope. However, children’s games reward competitiveness, strength and aggressiveness, aiming to excel and move up positions in the hierarchy.

        Schoolyards themselves subtly promote differential socialization. Men’s games, such as football or basketball, have a privileged space in the yard with wide pitches located in the middle, occupying a significant percentage of the total recreation area.

        Instead, more feminine games should be played on the outskirts or in more secluded places. In many cases, the girls spend their free time sitting on benches chatting, without being able to take up more space in the yard..

          3. Media

          It is inevitable to speak of differential socialization without mentioning the media, which has become one of the most important agents of socialization. Television and, more recently, social networks are media that convey values, ideals and role models for men and women. It may include sexist content or stereotypes related to social hierarchy and distinction.

          Although the media have tried to expose information from a gender perspective, there is still a long way to go and it often happens that the public figure of men is exalted while women remain anonymous.

          A classic is the title of many reports in which, if the protagonist is a man, his name and surname are mentioned, while if he is a woman, the title usually uses the phrase “A girl / a woman”.

          Users of social networks, sensitive to the invisibility of women, often make fun of this type of news by responding to comments with the formula “name: girl; name of “. The names of women, when they are a source of information, appear less than those of men.

            What are the consequences of differential socialization?

            Differential socialization is a phenomenon which, as one might expect, makes societies non-egalitarian and just.. If we are to tackle gender inequalities, as well as racial, gender, ethnic and other discrimination, what needs to change is culture and be aware that there are prejudices, stereotypes and subtle ways of doing things. treat people differently. do it.

            We have observed that differential socialization is a very variable phenomenon according to several parameters, even within the same society. The lower the level of education, the more stereotypical gender roles. Women are encouraged to do household chores, while men are encouraged to be the ones that bring home money.. Of course, the allocation of tasks and roles between men and women is very different according to gender.

            While it is true that a higher level of education leads to more egalitarian attitudes between men and women, this does not mean that the more education one has, the more there is no more inequality. No matter how many studies one has, it is inevitable that women and men will be seen in one way or another, ascribing certain roles to it in a gender perspective.

            At least in the West, social differentiation is all the weaker the younger one is. Young people are less supportive of gender differentiation, which is associated with belonging to a generation more sensitive to inequalities between men and women as some traditional stereotypes of how people should behave based on whether they are male or female have been broken.

            It should be noted, however, that the economic crises or the current health crisis are causing these anti-differentiation attitudes to be inverted.

            Bibliographical references

            • Suberviola Ovelles, I. (2020). The differential emotional socialization of gender as a predictor of character.
            • García, Carmen Teresa, Ayaso, Margolfa, & Ramírez, Maria Gabriela. (2008). The playground in preschool: A space for differential socialization of girls and boys. Venezuelan Journal of Women’s Studies, 13 (31), 169-192. Retrieved November 5, 2021, from http://ve.scielo.org/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1316-37012008000200011&lng=es&tlng=en.
            • Ferrer Pérez, Victoria, & Bosch Fiol, Hope (2013). FROM ROMANTIC LOVE TO GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE. FOR EMOTIONAL COEDUCATION IN THE EDUCATIONAL AGENDA. Teachers. Journal of Curriculum and Teacher Training, 17 (1), 105-122.

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