Examining the role of childhood experiences in gender identity and expression: an interpretative phenomenological analysis using Social Learning Theory

Dodgers, Steph, Cordoba, Sebastian and Coe, Jennifer (2023) Examining the role of childhood experiences in gender identity and expression: an interpretative phenomenological analysis using Social Learning Theory. Gender Issues. ISSN 1936-4717

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Abstract / Description

This qualitative study examines the role of childhood experiences and memories in shaping individuals’ gender identities, expressions, and life trajectories. Whilst some research has examined the role of gender stereotypes in people's life trajectories, no research has focused on people's retrospective accounts of their gender socialisation about their current understanding of (their own) gender. We conducted eight semi-structured interviews with 20–30-year-olds living in the UK to do this. We employed interpretative phenomenological analysis to analyse our data, which enabled us to investigate participants’ memories of their gender socialisations, observations, and internalisations in childhood and their interpretation of these experiences. Using insights from social learning theory, this study provides further insights into the processes of observations, internalisations, and subsequent challenges to gender based on their retrospective accounts. We show the impact of hegemonic gender stereotypes in the participants' life trajectories and hobbies (mainly sports), showing the limitations created by the gender binary system. Notably, the present findings support social learning theory, as it shows how the internalisation of gender can be challenged by new forms of gender resocialisation, including the promotion of gender equity in sports, the possibilities of gender expressions and identities beyond the binary, and the free articulation and expression of these concerns in society. By showing how gender internalisations can be malleable, this research provides practical recommendations for tackling unnecessary gender divisions in childhood settings.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This version of the article has been accepted for publication, after peer review and is subject to Springer Nature’s AM terms of use, but is not the Version of Record and does not reflect post-acceptance improvements, or any corrections. The Version of Record is available online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12147-023-09314-4
Uncontrolled Keywords: gender, sports, education, binary, stereotypes, social learning theory
Subjects: 100 Philosophy & psychology > 150 Psychology
300 Social sciences > 370 Education
Department: School of Social Sciences (to June 2021)
Depositing User: Sebastian Cordoba
Date Deposited: 16 Nov 2023 15:42
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2023 15:42
URI: https://repository.londonmet.ac.uk/id/eprint/8882

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