Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version



Edwards, C.P., Knoche, L., & Kumru, A. (2004). Socialization of boys and girls in natural contexts. In C.R. Ember & M. Ember (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender in the World's Cultures (pp.34-41). Kluwer/Plenum and Human Relations Area Files.


Copyright © 2003 Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. Used by permission.


Socialization is the general process by which the members of a cultural community or society pass on their language, rules, roles, and customary ways of thinking and behaving to the next generation. Sex role socialization is one important aspect of this general process. The goals of earlier work were to understand how, why, and at what age girls and boys begin to vary behaviorally along such dimensions as "nurturance," "aggression," and "dependency," including determination of how sex-typical dispositions are influenced by cultural factors. This chapter presents a new approach seeking to answer such questions as the following. How are different kinds of gender-specific social behaviors called out or elicited by different contexts of socialization? How are gender differences influenced by children’s relationship to their social companions, for example, their gender, age, status, and kinship relationship? How are gender differences influenced by different activity contexts (e.g. school, work, play) that we know are differentially distributed across cultural communities, depending on such factors as adult subsistence strategies, leisure patterns, family structures, household organizations, and forms of social networks? Finally, how are gender differences affected by where children are found, their location in space (e.g. distance from home)?