Gendered Society: Gender and Sociology Term Paper

Total Length: 1050 words ( 4 double-spaced pages)

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Gender is an institution that people either widely accept as one way or another. Within any given society there are cultural norms that people identify with and that help shape their behaviors, values and beliefs. Gender differences thus can be easily created as an institution and can be representative of inequality when that inequality is supported or constructed by society at large (Kimmel, 2000). Kimmel suggests that inequalities are created as norms and arise within relationships, within families and even in the workplace or any other environment in which people work intimately (Kimmel, 2000).

Because gender is an institution according to Kimmel certain behaviors or actions are easily identified and labeled as appropriate or wrong (such as homosexuality) (Kimmel, 2000). If people adopt and follow social norms they will enjoy all the benefits associated with accepting the institution of gender correctly. When they do something incorrectly however people can expect to face resistance.

Six Degrees of Separation

In Six Degrees of Separation one easily identifies with the concept of gender as an institution or socially constructed variable. In this work the author helps show through the main character Paul how people can become trapped into behaving in a manner that goes against their natural identity based primarily on socially constructed institutions and pressures (Kleinfeld, 2002). The work also shows how gender is influenced by mankind's obsession with his status and role in society, and that this concern over how one will be accepted and interpreted by others can influence ones gender and identity (Kleinfeld, 2002).
The main character Paul chances his identity multiple times in the work and moves between varying identities based on the relationships he creates and the responses he receives from those he is interacting with (Napierkowski, 2005). Paul easily shows how members of society can contribute to ones sense of acceptance and how societal influences more often than not contribute to inequality and disparity (Napierkowski, 2005). In the film Paul's colleagues and associates play more of a role in his identity development than psychological or biological influences.

Gender in Six Degrees of Separation is described as something that people can do based on the manner in which they are socialized into society. Paul creates his own gender multiple times or 'does' gender in the manner he sees most fit to help promote his personal interests and well-being. Mankind has often done the same throughout history. Man according to Kimmel (2000) is a product of his or her experiences, interactions and relationships. The manner in which one interprets life events and engages in social interactions based on cultural and social norms and one's acceptance of these norms helps shape and creates ones identity.

This socializing process occurs during childhood and continues through ones adult life and an individual meets and interacts with different people and shapes his or her identity based on socially accepted norms, principles and one's interpretation of specific events and circumstances.


Kimmel, M.S. (2000). The gendered society. New York: Oxford University Press.

Kleinfeld, J.S. ( "Could it be a big world after all?.....

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