Masculinity, femininity and sex: an exploration of their relative contribution to explaining gender differences in health

Annandale, E. and Hunt, K. (1990) Masculinity, femininity and sex: an exploration of their relative contribution to explaining gender differences in health. Sociology of Health and Illness, 12(1), pp. 24-46. (doi:10.1111/1467-9566.ep10844865)

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Abstract

The emergence of gender as a major area of interest in medical sociology in the 1970s set an exciting agenda for future research. However, despite a growing literature, our understanding of the mechanisms linking gender and health has advanced little in recent years. This may, in part, be due to problems in conceptualising gender. In particular, despite theoretical advances, biological sex and sociological gender continue to be conflated in empirical research. In this paper we argue that sex and gender are not necessarily coincidental and that gender roles and gender role orientations may cross-cut sex. We draw upon a recent tradition of research on gender role orientation in psychology which assesses the level of ‘bmasculinity’ and ‘femininity’ in an individual's self-concept through identification with traditionally ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ characteristics. Considering a range of health measures we conclude that the sex (male-female) differences that are traditionally found in research on gender and health may mask an association of ‘femininity’ with relatively poor health and ‘masculinity’ with relatively good health in both men and women.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Hunt, Professor Kathryn and Annandale, Dr Ellen
Authors: Annandale, E., and Hunt, K.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO Unit
Journal Name:Sociology of Health and Illness
Publisher:Wiley
ISSN:0141-9889
ISSN (Online):1467-9566

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