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Gender Inequalities

  • Date Submitted: 12/16/2010 07:15 AM
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Aisling Mc Ginn

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Compare and contrast the conflict theory explanation and the social constructionist explanation for the persistence of gender inequality.

In order to be able to compare these two theories in terms of the persistence of gender inequality it is first important to understand the differences between the conflict theory and the social constructionist theory. Karl Marx, the most influential socialist thinker from the 19th century, proposed what is known as the conflict theory. This theory looks at how certain social interactions occur through conflict in order to gain more power in a society. Conflict theorists claim that gender now involves disparities in power. Conventional ideas about gender have historically benefited men while leaving women the victims of discrimination, prejudice and violence (Hacker, 1951, 1974; Collins, 1971; Lengermann and Wallace, 1985). This idea highlights the persistence of inequalities between men and women in our world today.

On the other hand the social construction theory is based on how a social phenomenon develops in social contexts. This is associated with how society is actively and creatively produced by human beings. The world is made or invented, rather than given or taken for granted, and the individuals and groups within this world make up the social groups (Schutz, 1932; W.I. Thomas, 1951).
‘Society is a human product. Society is an objective reality. Man is a social product.’     (Berger and Luckmann, 1966)
In societies today there are two categories of human being – men and women. Men have seemed to adapt to a particular role that is dominant over the role women have developed, which accentuates the presence of gender inequality. The social shapes of gender and sexuality are bound up with the economic, religious, political and cultural times people live in.

Gender order refers to the ways in which societies shape notions of masculinity and femininity into power relationships. Gender...

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