Changing Sex Roles in American Culture: Future Directions for Research

  • Jean Lipman-Blumen
Part of the Perspectives in Sexuality book series (Persp. Sex.)


Sex role research, in the past, has been multidimensional, but misleading, and often mythical in its foundations. The study of sex roles traditionally has been in large measure the bailiwick of sociologists. They have tended to define sex roles generally in terms of differentiation — first, within the family (Parsons, 1942; Parsons and Bales, 1955) and, second, within the economy (Oppenheimer, 1968; Epstein, 1971). Within theoretical frameworks provided largely by the functionalist school of sociology, this approach has viewed sex role as one form of social role in which there are reciprocal behaviors and attitudes, governed by articulated norms and rewarded in terms of differential contributions and values. This perspective leans heavily on role theory (Biddle and Thomas, 1966) and tends to focus on such concepts as socialization (Brim, 1968; Goslin, 1969), role conflict (Gross et al, 1958), identification (Lynn, 1969), role models and role set (Merton, 1957), role differentiation (Eisenstadt, 1971; Holter, 1970), and role dedifferentiation (Lipman-Blumen, 1973). The socialization literature, subsumed under this perspective, is a major body of literature in its own right, with social learning theory (Mischel, 1966) and cognitive mode theory (Kohlberg, 1966) representing at least two major thrusts designed to explain how children learn and assume “appropriate” sex roles.


Social Role Role Conflict American Culture Reward Structure Occupational Role 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jean Lipman-Blumen
    • 1
  1. 1.Office of ResearchNational Institute of EducationUSA

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