". Roles and power relationships between couples

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  • Created on: 16-04-15 15:30
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  • 2. Roles and Power relationships between couples
    • Domestic division of labour
      • Definition - Gender roles that men and women play in relation to housework, childcare and paid work
      • Functionalism (Parsons 1955) - segregated conjugal roles in traditional nuclear families
        • Instrumental role - men go out to work and act as the financial breadwinner
        • Expressive role - Women act as homemakers and careers
        • Evaluation - Outdated view (men taking greater share in domestic tasks) & division of labour is not natural (socially created & largely benefits men
        • Reasons - Biological differences, women suit a mothering role and men a providing role.
      • Early empirical study- Young and Willmott (1973)
        • March of progress view
          • Family becoming more equal over time. Moving towards a symmetrical family. (similar roles)
            • 'Privatised' - home centred, child centred, small and increasingly affluent
        • Reasons - New technology, greater affluence, changes in position of women
      • Early feminist views
      • Oakley (1974)
      • Recent empirical evidence
        • Sullivan (2000)
        • Reasons for new symmetry - Increase in the number of women working, shifting social attitudes, commercialisation of housework
        • Recent feminist views - Family remains patriarchal. Dual Burden and Triple shift
        • Reasons for current gender equality. Gender scripts & Patriarchy
        • Evaluation - Ignores important variations in the division of labour in terms of: Social class - better paid and educated women do less housework and childcare. Sexuality - lesbians more symmetrical
    • Resources and decision making
      • Barrett and McIntosh (1991)
        • Financial support men provide is worth less than the domestic work women perform
        • Financial support men provide is often unpredictable and 'strings' attached
        • Other feminist research shows: Women deny themselves food and their own needs in order to put their family first. & Women who separate from husbands and rely on benefits are often better off.
      • Decision making - Evidence shows more households are pooling financial resources rather than operating an allowance system controlled by men.
        • Edgell (1980) - very important decisions, important decisions & less important decisions
        • Reasons for inequality - men earn more, patriarchy and enforced through threat of domestic violence
    • Domestic violence
      • Definition - physical, sexual and psychological abuse between those in a family type relationship.
      • Mirrlees-Black (1999)
        • 6.6m domestic assaults each year, half involving physical injury
        • Most victims are women attacked by men
        • 1 in 4 women are assaulted by partners
        • Most victims are working class, live in rented housing and are poor
        • Violence also common against children and elders
      • Problems with statistics - underestimate the size of the problem
      • Reasons
        • Wilkinson (1996) - product of stress that goes with social inequality
          • Evaluation - Doesn't explain why women are at a greater risk than men
        • Marxist-feminists (Ansley 1993) - an outlet of men's frustration with the explotation and alienation they experience through the workplace
          • Evaluation - Economically deterministic - too readily simplifies domestic violence to the economy


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