Journal of Adult Development

, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 37–45 | Cite as

The social construction of gender

  • Sophie Freud


The categories provided by the language of our culture give us a meaning-making framework that guides our perception of the world. This paper views the process of categorizing people from a constructivist perspective. It argues that many categories such as race, nationality, homosexuality, and gender are arbitrary social constructions created to fill some human purpose based on sociopolitical rather than biological or “natural” considerations. Similarity among people may arise from a history of being in the same category rather than being the basis for categorization. Whereas people are attached to categories that shape their identity and unite with other persons from similar categories to fight for their rights, they should also envisage the possibility of revising these arbitrary categories.

Key words

Categories constructivism gender sexuality social construction 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sophie Freud
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Social WorkSimmons CollegeBoston

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