Chapter 11 of the book “Society in Focus: An Introduction to Sociology” by William E Thompson and Joseph V. Hickey is titled Sex and Gender and explores the relationship between the two elements and their interpretations by different members of the society. There are countless debates about the differences men and women and this is something that two authors tackle in this chapter. They attribute the enormous debate regarding differences between men and women to people’s confusion of the terms sex and gender which they claim are totally different words. The authors discuss various concepts related to sex and gender including the biological differences between the two genders. Biological differences that are touched on include genetic makeup and sex linked disparities such as weight, height physical strength and facial hair. Perhaps one of the most interesting claims that is made is that although it is the chromosomes and hormones that dictate most of the sex linked differences between men and women, these are far less inconsequential than the social and cultural expectations that linked to members of the two sexes. This is because people cannot in actual sense see chromosomes or hormones form the outside.
In regards to this, the authors also explore the aspect of social orientation and diversity. The emphasis here is on different society’s norms and beliefs on sexual matters such as sex behavior, mating gestures and patterns, desirable mate qualities, appropriate times, scenarios and places for sexual activities amongst others. The issue of sexual orientation and the different perceptions associated with them in various cultures is also discusses. Emphasis is given on homosexuality and bisexuality and the attitude associated with them (especially that of homophobia) are explored. The reasons for some of these sexual practices are given, for instance, it is mentioned that biologically factors may in actual sense have influence one’s sexual orientation. However, the thing that stands out at the end of this discussion is that the current global society seems to be becoming more tolerant to unconventional sexual practices such as homosexuality.
The other major talking point of this chapter is the social costs that are associated with violating the ascribed gender norms. Since time immemorial, the society has always ascribed distinct roles for the two genders and when a member of any general I seen to violate the ascribed norms, he or she is considered deviant and may be subject to punitive measures or social alienation. The question of why these differences exist is posed and the answered using various perspectives that relate to the development of gender identity. Here, the relationship between gender and communication, play, role taking and the social learning theory are explored. Sexism, which is concept that suggests that there is one sex that is superior to the other, is discussed conclusively. It is particularly shown how the male gender often emerges as superior to the female gender. This is exhibited in various places including at home and even at the workplace.
However, one of the strongest elements of this chapter is exploration of the inequity that is brought by differences in sex and gender. This concept is further analyzed by looking at sexual harassment at the workplace where women are the most victims and the major reason for this is the view that that is shared by most men that they are superior to women and can therefore command them to do almost everything.
In the next section., the authors explore the concept of feminism which is a movement that seeks to eliminate the historical oppression of the female gender by encouraging women to stand up to their male oppressors and claim their rightful place in the society.
The chapter ends with a look at the future of sex and gender and the notable thing is that most traditional gender boundaries have been opened up and members of both genders are actively challenging the traditional roles and norms ascribed to the two genders. This is something that is likely to continue in the future.
Chapter 12 of this Book “Society in Focus: An Introduction to Sociology” by William E Thompson and Joseph V is titled “Age and the Elderly” and explores one of the least talked about group in the society and these are the aged and the elderly. The chapter starts with an exploration of gerontology which is in actual sense is the study of aging. The definition of aging in different cultures is explored, for instance, some cultures consider old age to be from the age of 65 years old, which is actually the retirement age in many countries. Different demographics about old age and the elderly are also given. One interesting fact shown by these demographics is that people aged 65 years and above comprise the fastest growing age group in the world. The current figure is around 8% and this is expected to grow in the future.
In regards to poor health and death, the controversy surrounding euthanasia is brought out. There has been a lot of debate not only in the social circles but also in the political circles regarding the issue of euthanasia. The major issue of concern has been whether it is normally, ethically and legally right. Several case studies regarding this issue including rulings by the Supreme Court are explored.
Another significant aspect of aging explored in this chapter regards the sociological explanations of the aging process. Several theories are explored, such as the one that suggests that social engagement takes the functionalist perspective where the society and elderly take part in a mutual process of withdrawing from actual interaction. Another theory adopts the conflict approach whereby the elderly are viewed as a distinct subculture of the society that experiences discrimination and prejudice just like those that face other minority groups. Other theories such as the activity and the exchange theory that also show the inferiority of the aged are also discussed.
The final element of the chapter is a restatement of something expressed earlier whereby it is shown that the elderly are likely to continue increasing in number in the world in the foreseeable future. The huge baby boom of the Unites States in particular will be in the age group of 65 and above in the coming future and there is a high likelihood that this will be the largest age group in the country. Such a transformation is definite to have a humongous effect on not only the social status of the country but also on its political and economic status.