Notes straight from the AQA textbook

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  • Created on: 19-03-15 18:31
Preview of Couples

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This refers to the roles that men and women play in relationships.
Parsons: Instrumental and expressive roles
Is a Functionalist that identifies a clear division of gender roles within the nuclear family ­
husbands have an instrumental role of being the breadwinner and wives have an expressive role,
meeting the needs of the family by providing emotional support, primary socialisation and
domestic labour.
Along with New Right Thinkers, he saw these roles being biologically suited for both male and
female which benefits the family plus wider society as a whole.
Feminist argue that no these roles are not natural.
Willmott and Young (March on Progress ) argue that men are now taking on more domestic roles
and women are also becoming wage earners.
Joint and segregated conjugal roles
Bott distinguishes between two types of role:
segregated conjugal roles where couples experience
different roles and leisure activities and joint conjugal roles where couples share domestic labour
and leisure time etc.
Willmott and Young study on w/e extended families in London found that men were the
breadwinners and would spend most of their leisure time with work colleagues whilst women
were housewives spending most of this leisure time with female kin.
The symmetrical family
Willmott and Young identify a move towards equality with less segregated roles and more joint
They see the symmetrical family as the third stage of the nuclear family in which roles of the
husband and wife are more similar and equal/joint. Women work more, men are more involved in
housework and childcare and couples tend to spend leisure time together.
They see this symmetry as a result of major social changes; for example, in their study, young
couples that had moved away from their extended families were more symmetrical. Also on those
that are young, more affluent, and more geographically and socially isolated.
Symmetry is seen as more socially acceptable within households due to 1) changes in women's
positions 2) geographical mobility 3) new technology and 4) higher standards of living.
A Feminist view of housework
They reject the March of Progress view and state that no progress has been made for women ­ no
symmetry as families and the wider society are still very patriarchal.
Oakley criticises the reliability of
Willmott and Young's study on symmetrical families as although
the husbands in the interviews may have helped around the houses, this is still mere in
comparison to the amount of work that housewives have to do.
In here 1970's research she found that men may have helped with domestic labour however the
state of the family was far from symmetrical. 15% of men helped with domestic tasks, 25% helped
with childcare but the men also took the more pleasurable activities.
Boulton supported Oakley finding that fewer than 20% men had a major role in childcare and
when they did they were more involved in childcare, not their well-being.

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Warde and Hetherington suggest that sex-typing of domestic labour still remains strong, for
examples wives are 30x's more likely to have last done the washing and men are 4'xs more likely
to have last washed the car.
However young men's attitudes have changed slightly with less female role assumptions.
Future Foundation's found that 60% of men have claimed to do more housework than their
fathers with 75% women claiming to do less than their mothers.…read more

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The Dual Burden
Feminists state that there is little evidence of this `new man' and instead, women face paid-work
and unpaid housework and men benefit from both.
Ferri and Smith provide evidence of the dual burden as they found that increased employment for
women has had a little impact on their domestic labour. In a sample of 1,589 33-year-old father
and mothers, less than 4% of men had a dominant role in childcare.…read more

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Barrett and McIntosh note that:
1) men normally make the decision on what to spend money on
2) men gain more from women's housework than they give back financially
3) this financial support is often `unpredictable' with `strings attached'
Family members do not equally share resources with women usually coming worse off, sparing
themselves for other members.…read more

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Official statistics
-> Victims may be less willing/unlikely to report crime as Yearnshire found that a woman
experiences 35 assaults of crime before reporting it.
-> Police and prosecutors are reluctant to get involved in peoples personal family lives.…read more


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