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Research Urban and Regional Studies Institute PRC

The role of masculinity and femininity in health seeking behavior among elderly in Tanzania

Principal researcher

Sylivia Rutagumirwa

Type of research

PhD research


Professor Inge Hutter

Dr. Hinke Haisma

Summary of the project

This research topic is understudied not only in Tanzania but cross-culturally. Much of research in this area has focused predominantly on masculine and feminine ideal of young people in Western culture. Research need to give empirical evidence and theoretical recognition to the possibility that aging may alter the masculinities and femininities embraced in young age.

The empirical literature suggests that stereotypical gender roles and norms-culturally dominant behavior considered to be essentially “masculine and feminine” are an important factor that shapes bothmen’s and women’s health seeking behavior. Likewise studies reveal that negative stereotypes about aging constructed by society, adversely influence the health of older people. Based on symbolic interactionism perspective this study argue that although individuals draw upon the shared cultural conceptions of ideal “masculine and feminine” they may see themselves departing from masculine and feminine cultural model. Human beings are not “cultural dupes” rather act intentionally. In this regards, this study assume that it is the self perception of masculinities and femininities in older age that can influence their health seeking behaviour. Therefore, it is not behavior themselves that are important but the meaning attached to those behaviors.“The focus on meaning is central to the interpretive approach”. For this reason a qualitative design best suite this study. To gain the desired insight, the conceptual model of this study will draw on a synergy of symbolic interactionism, age schema, gender schema and Andersens’s behavioral model of health service utilization.

Last modified:07 August 2020 2.45 p.m.