Statham, June A.
Non traditional sex role socialisation: parents' perceptions of non-sexist childrearing.
The Open University.
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Despite a growth of research documenting attempts to counteract sex role stereotypes in the school and work environments and in the media, little is known about non-traditional sex role-socialisation within the home. This study explored the aims, philosophy and reported practice of thirty white, middle-class parents committed to non-sexist childrearing, who between them had eighteen daughters and twelve sons aged six months to eleven years. Data was collected through semi-structured interviewing, mostly carried out in 1979 and 1980, and four case-study' families were visited over a three-year period. The main finding was that the conception of non-sexist child-rearing held by these parents was more complex than the social learning position originally stressed by the Women's Liberation Movement, with its emphasis on controlling the child's environment in terms of toys, clothes, books, parental models and reinforcement patterns. The parents in this study also took account of the child's active participation in the socialisation process, of psychological factors within themselves and the dynamics of their relationship with their children, and of the role of economic and structural factors in limiting the possibilities for sex role change. They adopted an androgynous conception of sex roles and saw themselves as opening up more options for their children rather than as trying to reverse traditional sex roles or to make both sexes more masculine or more feminine. Non-sexist childrearing was perceived to be more difficult with sons than daughters, and most parents expressed greater ambivalence about raising sons in a less sex-stereotyped way. The emphasis in non-sexist childrearing was on altering the socialisation of daughters, and the impetus for sex role change came from women
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