Critical ways of thinking about sex and gender as social processes in everyday lives. Topics include how sex and gender shape and affect the experiences of women, men, girls, boys, and individuals who live in the spaces in-between (those who are intersex or transgender) across a wide range of social institutions (family, work, education, politics, etc.).
In sociology, social role theory was commonly used in the 1970s and 1980s to explain how men and women come to maintain and fulfill different social statuses and positions in society. Originally, social role theory in the context of “sex roles” offered an alternative to biological explanations describing perceived differences between men and women as natural, biological, and essential. Since the 1990s, however, sex role theory has been critiqued as overly rigid, understanding social actors as static rather than active and interactive. To this end, most sociological research on sex and gender is now grounded in symbolic interactionist and social constructionist perspectives that recognize the ways in which categories and experiences connected to sex and gender are produced by and through social interaction, generating and limiting various sex and gender identities as they interface with social systems, institutions, and structures. The proposed name change for this course reflects the contemporary focus in sociology on sex and gender rather than on sex roles per se. The pedagogical content of the course will not be changed and students will still learn about earlier sociological sex role theories as part of a well-rounded introduction to sociological perspectives on sex and gender. Since this is a cross-listed course (Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies) that also engages with interdisciplinary approaches to understanding sex and gender, the name change focuses on the substantive content of the course—sex and gender—rather than sociology.
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