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Couples and Gender Roles
Perspectives on Gender Roles
Parsons (1955)
1. Instrumental Roles
2. Expressive roles.
Bott (1957)
1. Segregated Conjugal Roles
2. Joint Conjugal Roles
Wilmott and Young (1973)
The Symmetrical Family
Oakley (1974)
The Feminist View
Exam Question
Explain the difference between Segregated Conjugal Roles and
Joint Conjugal Roles (4)
How many marks is it worth?
Have I made my point?
Have I given an example?
The Impact of Paid work
Most of the women in Oakley's study were full time housewives
but many more households now have a 2nd income from the
wife's full or part time job. Today 3 quarters of women are
economically active, as against few than half that amount in

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Sociologists are interested in whether this trend has led to a
more equal division of domestic tasks.
Why do you think men's higher earnings might mean that
they cant do as much housework?
Gershuny (1994)
Found that wives who worked full time did less domestic tasks.…read more

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Housework has become commercialised ­ Goods and
services that housewives previously had to produce
themselves are now mass produced and supplied by
What goods are available in supermarkets which reduce
the amount of domestic labour which needs to be done?
2. Women working ­ Means they can afford to buy these
goods and services
Silver and Schor argue this reduces the burden of
housework.…read more

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Even when a woman works and her husband is unemployed,
there is little evidence of husbands doing more in the home.
Morris (1990) found men who suffered a loss of their
masculine role as a result of becoming unemployed saw
domestic work as women's work! However Ramos (2003)
found in his study that in households where the male is
unemployed his domestic labout matched that of the woman.…read more

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Hochschild (1983) Women are more likely to be performing
jobs involving emotional labour.
Suggest 4 situations where women might carry out emotion
work with their families.
Lesbian Couples
Dunne (1999) argues the division of labour continues because
of gender scripts.
These are expectations or norms that set out the different
gender roles men and women play.
In lesbian couples these gender roles do not operate to the
same extent.…read more

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Men gain far more from women's domestic work than they give
back in financial support.
Financial support is often unpredictable and comes with strings
Family members do not share things such as food and money
Decision Making
Edgell (1980)
Very Important decisions ­ Changing job or moving house,
made by husband or husband has final say
Important decisions ­ Holidays, education taken jointly
Less Important decisions ­ Clothing, food made by wife.…read more

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Why is domestic violence `inevitable?'
Possible Essay
Item A
Some sociologists argue that a number of changes have taken place in
gender roles and relationships within families. They suggest that changing
attitudes to gender roles and increased participation by women in the
labour market have led to more equality in modern family life. For example,
Gershuny (1992) found that men were making more of an effort to do
housework when their wives were in full-time employment.…read more

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May be seen as old fashioned
The Symmetrical Family
Wilmott and Young
However a feminist may argue.....
However Gurshuny (1992) ­ Referring to Item
Things getting better for women
(AO1 A02)
Commercialisation of housework
Silver (1987)
However.....…read more


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