Sociology Family and Households


Functionalism and the domestic division of labour

Parsons (1955)identifies 2 conjugal marital roles.

Instrumental-male breadwinner

Expressive-female nuturer or carer.

He believes conjugal roles are biologically based and the gender division of labour is functional for family,its members and wider society.

The New Right(Charles Murray)agrees with Parsons that the biologically based gender division of labour is the best way of organising family life.

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March of progress and the domestic division of lab

Believe conjugal roles have become more equal.

Elizabeth Bott (1957) defines 2 types of conjugal roles:

Segregated conjugal roles:Clear division of labour between males and females like Parson's beliefs.Couples spend leisure time seperately.

Wilmott and Young (1962) found segregated conjugal roles in wc extended families in Bethnal Green in the 1950s.

Joint conjugal roles involves couples sharing domestic tasks and leisure. 

Wilmott and Young (1973)see a trend towards joint conjugal roles and the symmetrical family.Roles are more similiar and equal.

Women work,the emmergence of the new man who helps with housework&childcare,couples spend leisure time together,men are more home-centures,family more privatised. 

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Feminism and the domestic division of labour

Feminists reject functionalist view that the division of labour is natural because they recognise it is not found in all societies and only benefits men.

Feminists reject march of progress view that the family is symmetrical as they argue family is patricahal and male-dominated.

Oakley (1974) found no evidence that the family was symmetrical in terms of domestic labour.Argues Wilmott and Young exagerrate men's role.Notes that although men 'helped' this could just include ironing their own shirt once a week.

Boulton (1983)says we need to look at who is respnsible for tasks not just who performs them.Wife is responsible for childrens welfare even though men help,less than 20% of husbands took a major part in childcare.

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March of Progress on couples becoming more equal

Believe couples and their division of labour have become more equal since women have entered paid work.

Sullivan(2000) found couples have an equal division of labour as women do less domestic work,men do more traditional womens tasks.

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Feminism on couples becoming more equal

Reject the march of progress idea that women entering paid work has lead to equal couples and their division of labour.Believe women carry a dual burden:paid work and domestic work.

British Social Attitudes(2013)women do double the amount of domestic labour men do,couples divided along traditional gender lines.Little change since 1990s.

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Feminism on responsibility for children

Mothers tend to take responsibility for children's well-being.

Dex and Ward (2007)only 1% of fathers took main responsibility for caring for a sick child.

Braun et al (2011)most are background fathers,hold provider ideology.Role were to be breadwinners and not primary carer.

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Feminism on quality time

Women are responsible for managing family's quality time despite living in  24/7 society  with flexible working hours cauing peoples time to be more fragemented and de-routinised.Working class mother find it hard to juggle this with work demands.

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Feminism and the triple shift

Dunscombe and Marsden (1995) found women carried a triple shift of emotional work,domestic labour and paid worl.

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Cultural and ideological explaination for the gend

Patriachy ideology is evident in culture and shape gender roles.Women consequently perform more domestic labour because it is what society expects them to do.Equality achieved when attitudes,values and expectations so in tern role models and socialisation will change.

Gershuny (1994) time-study more hrs women work,less they do domestic labour and more men do to compensate for that.

Kan (2001)younger men do more domestic work.

British Social Atitudes (2013) found a long-term change in attitudes.

2.Material/Economic Explaination:Women earn less than men,its economically rational for them to do more domestic labour to compensate as men spend more time earning money.

Arber and Ginn (1995) found better paid women buy products and services eg childcare so they don't have to do it themselves.

Ramos (2003) if women are full-time breadwinners and men are unemployed they do equal amounts of domestic labour.

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Same-sex couples and gender scripts

Radical feminists argue that heterosexual relationships are inevitably patriachal even in relationships where  women are in paid work.

Dunne (1999)study of 37 lesbian couples with children found a more equal division of labour.She uses the idea of gender scripts.

Heterosexuals:socialised into gender scripts(masculine and feminine roles and identities)

Lesbians:did not link household tasks to gender scripts,more open to negotiation and therefore they are more equal.

Where 1 lesbian partner did more paid work,they did less domestic work.So material factors are sill an important influence on the division of labour. 

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Material & Economic Explaination for the gender di

Women earn less than men,its economically rational for them to do more domestic labour to compensate as men spend more time earning money.

Arber and Ginn (1995) found better paid women buy products and services eg childcare so they don't have to do it themselves.

Ramos (2003) if women are full-time breadwinners and men are unemployed they do equal amounts of domestic labour.

Crompton says since women continue to earn less than men,there is no immediate prospect of a more equal division of labour.

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Reasons for the symmetrical family

Major social changes during the 20th century

Higher living standards

Labour-saving devices

Better housing

Women working

Smaller families

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Feminist resources and decision-making

Kempson (1994)found women in low-income families put their families needs before their own to make ends meet.Resources in households with adequate incomes are often also shared unequally too and tend to leave women in poverty.

Unequal shares are the result of who contrpls the family's income-often the man.

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Decision making and paid work

Men take a greater share of resources and have more influence on decisions because they earn more.

Pahl and Volger (1993)2 types of control over family income:

Allowance System-Men work and give non-working wives and ollowance which they budget to meet the family's needs.

Pooling Systen-Partners work and are jointly responsible for spending.

Recent increase in the pooling system.

Volger (1994) despite this men make the major decisions due to their greater earnings.

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Professional couples and decision making

Edgell's 1980's study of decision making among 2 professional in each couple.Found inequalities.

Very important decisions-(on finances/moving house) made by husband

Important-(Children's school's)Taken jointly

Less impotant decisions (food purchases) taken by the wife

Explainations for inequalities surronding decison making:

Material-Men have more power,earn more.Women earn less so have less influence.

Cultural-Feminists argue that gender role socialisation in patriachal society instils the idea that men are the decision-makers.

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The personal life perspective on money

Focuses on diverse meaning couples attach to controlling finances.

Nyman (2003)different couples give money different meanings.Meanings reflect the nature of the relationship.

Smart (2007) some same-sex couples did not see a correlation between who controls the money and whether or not their relationship was equal.May be because same-sex couples fo not enter relatioships with heterosexual baggage of cultural meanings therefore they do not see money as a source of power.

Smart says it is essetial to start from the personal meanings of the actors involved in the situation. 

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Domestic Violence Statistics

DV is Too widespread to be the result of behaviour stemmed from 'distrubed' individuals.

The British Crime Survey estimates that there are 6.6 million assaults per year.

Assaults are not random,mainly men against women.

BCS claim 1 in 4 women are assaulted by their partner at some point.

Police under-estimate its extent because of under-reporting and under-recording.

BCS under a 1/3 of assaults are reported.Yearnshire (1997) found that on average a women sufferes 35 or more asaults before reporting abuse.

Cheal argues that police are more reluctant to record,investigate or prosecute  DV because they don't want to be involved with the private sphere of the family.They often take the view that individuals are free to leave if unhappy.Though many women cannot leave because of their children or that they are financially dependent on their partners.

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Radical Feminist Explaination of Domestic Violence

See domestic violence as a inevitable result of patriarchy and male domination in all social insitituitons.

men opress women in the family and benefit from women's unpaid domestic labour and sexual services.Dv enables men to control women in a patriachal society. in addition men dominate state and explain why the police and courts fail to take dv seriously.

Dobash and Dobash found violence was triggeres when husbands felt their authority was being challenged.Conclude that marriage legitimises violence by giving more power to men.

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Criticisms of Radical Feminists Explainations of D

It does not expalin violence by women against men,children or lesbian partners.Elliot's 1996 study argues that not all men benefit in couples.

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Material Explanation for Domestic Violence

Focuses on the economic factors eg inequalities in income and housing to explain why some groups are more at risk of DV.

Women,children,poor/lower classes and alcohol and illegal drug users are at risk of DV.

Wilkinson and Pickett (2010)DV patterns are aresult of the stress on family caused by social inequality.Families that lack resources stress more and this increases their risk of violence.

Marxist feminisits argue sthat inequality produces domestic violence.Ansley (1972) argues that male workers exploited at work take out their frustration on their wives.

Though Marxists feminists can be criticised as their beliefs dont explain the fact that not all male workerd commit domestic violence.

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