The Social Construction of Gender in Traditional Igbo Societies: A Comparative Study of Language used as Socialization in John Munonyes’s the Only Son and Flora Nwapa’s Efuru

Cletus Ikechukwu Anah, Mary Chizoma Okere


The Social Construction of gender is hinged on the belief that gender is culturally and psychologically produced. Culture is defined as the totality of man’s acquisition as a member of society. It includes all behavioural traits, attitudes, values, beliefs, skills as well as the manufacture and use of material items in a given human society. This is contrary to the widely held view that biological differences are responsible for the distinctions in the behaviour of men and women, including the roles they play and the positions they occupy or do not occupy in society. As an integral component of the social construction of gender, socialisation inculcates in members of the society, acceptable cultural traits while moulding their individual personality (psychology). Since socialisation is a process that begins at birth and ends at death, both young and old members of society are involved. Through this process of socialisation, the culturally acceptable behaviour, values, beliefs and skills for males and females are prescribed, encouraged, reinforced and transmitted from one generation to another. On the other hand, those behavioural patterns, values, belief systems and skills deemed unacceptable by the society are proscribed, discouraged and sanctioned, thereby accentuating the distinctions between masculinity and feminity; highlighting gender as a social rather than biological phenomenon. This paper is a comparison of language used as socialisation in John Munonye’s The Only Son and Flora Nwapa’s Efuru to illustrate the social construction of gender among the Igbo of South-Eastern Nigeria. The methods or theoretical frameworks employed in this study are content analysis which provides valuable historical and cultural insights over time, through the analysis of the above stated texts and social constructionism, a sociological theory of knowledge which postulates that human development is socially situated and knowledge is constructed through integration.

Keywords: Gender, Language, Society, Culture and Socialisation.

DOI: 10.7176/RHSS/9-10-11

Publication date:May 31st 2019

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ISSN (Paper)2224-5766 ISSN (Online)2225-0484

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