Domestic division of labour

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  • Domestic division of labour
    • Parsons: instrumental and expressive roles
      • Husband has instrumental role - achieving success at work so he can provide for family financially. Breadwinner
      • Wife has expressive role - primary socialisation of children and meeting family's emotional needs. Homemaker, full-time housewife rather than wage earner.
      • Division of labour based on biological differences - women nurturing and men providing. Beneficial to both men and women.
      • Criticisms
        • Michael Young and Peter Willmott (1962) - men are taking greater share of domestic tasks and more wives becoming wage earners.
        • Feminists reject view that division of labour is natural. Argue it only benefits men.
    • Joint and segregated conjugal roles
      • Segregated conjugal roles - couple gave separate roles: male breadwinner and female homemaker/ carer.
      • Joint conjugal roles - couples share tasks such as housework and childcare and spend leisure time together.
      • Young and Willmott - identified pattern of segregated conjuga roles in traditional working-class extended families in 1950s.
        • Women full-time housewives and responsible for housework and childcare, helped by female relatives. Limited leisure was spent with female kin.
          • Men breadwinners, played small part in home life and spent leisure time with work friends in pubs and working men's clubs,
    • Feminist view of housework
      • Reject 'march of progress' view. Little has changed - men and women remain unequal, women still do most housework.
        • Family and society are male-dominated or patriarchal.
      • Ann Oakley (1974) criticises Y+W- claims are exaggerated,
        • Own research found some evidence of help from husband but no trend towards symmetry/
          • 15% husbands had high level of participation in house work and 25% had high level participation in childcare
      • Mary Boulton (1983) fewer than 20% of husbands had major role in childcare.
        • Y+W exaggerate men's contribution by looking at tasks rather than responsibilities.
        • Father may help with tasks but mother was responsible for child's security and well-being
      • Alan Warde and Kevin Hetherington (1993) - sex-typing of domestic tasks remain strong
        • Wives 30 times more likely to b last person to have done washing while husbands four times more likely to be last person to wash car.
        • Men would only carry out 'female' tasks when partners were not around.
        • Some evidence of slight change of attitude among younger men. No longer assumed women should do housework, more likely to think they were doing less than their fair share.
    • Symmetrical family
      • Y+W take 'march of progress' view. See family life improving for all members - more equal.
        • women now go out to work - may be part time not full.
        • Men help with housework and childcare
        • Couples now spend leisure time together
      • Symmetrical family more common in younger couples and geographically isolated.
        • Changes in womens position - married women go to work
        • geographically mobility - more couples living away from home
        • New technology - labour saving devices
        • Higher standards of living


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