Lay understandings of the role of heredity and genetics in the production of human sex may be important in perceptions of the relative similarity and difference of men and women and therefore of the appropriateness of behaviors or social policies. We employed 17 focus groups segregated by gender and ethnicity (43 European American and 39 African American) to assess lay understandings of genetics and biological sex. To ensure the inclusion of multiple perspectives in results, we developed and applied a methodology we call “polyvocal coding.” Results show uneven incorporation of basic genetics, with substantial diversity of alternative understandings, especially with regard to sexual orientation. Different individuals, including both coders and participants, may interpret the same information about sex chromosomal inheritance as a fundamental quality of individual identity that constitutes essential and significant difference or as a component with limited impact on each person.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 28, 2004
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