Family & Households

Topic 1: Couples 

  • Created by: neelam
  • Created on: 03-05-12 16:21

Family & Households

Topic 1 Couples

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 The domestic division of labour 

Domestic division of labour - the roles that men and women play in relation to housework, childcare and paid work

PARSONS (Functionalist): instrumental and expressive roles

In the traditional nuclear family, the roles of husbands and wives are segregated (seperate). 

Husband - instrumental role, achieving success at work and providing financially (breadwinner). 

Wife - expressive role, towards primary socialisation of the children and meeting the family's emotional needs (full time housewife). 

Parsons argues that women are "naturally" suited to the nurturing role as the provider. He claims that this division of labour is beneficial to both men and women.

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Criticisms of Parsons view


Men are now taking a greater share of domestic tasks and more wives are becoming wage earners. 


Division of labour benefits men only. 

Joint and segregated conjugal roles 

Segregated conjugal roles - where the couple have seperate roles: male as the breadwinner and female as the homemaker/carer.

Joint conjugal roles - where the couple share tasks such as housework and childcare and spend their leisure time together. 

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