Gender Functions

Gender is often conceptualized as a descriptive category comprising various components (e.g., identity, expression). However, gender(s) also fulfill a number of important personal, political, and social functions. Considering the functions of gender allows researchers and theorists to explore the reasons why unique genders evolve, the needs that they fulfill within communities, and the way they function interpersonally. An understanding of the purpose and functions of gender may render gender diversity more intelligible and less threatening to those who find it so. This entry first reviews key concepts related to gender and finishes by summarizing concepts from the humanities and social sciences that describe the various functions that gender can play, with a particular emphasis on the function of genders developed within various subcultures of the ...

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