Families and Households, Topic 1: Couples.

From the Orange AS Sociology textbook (UK).

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FAMILIES AND HOUSEHOLDS
AQA Specification:
The relationship of the family to the social structure and social change, with
particular reference to the economy and to state policies.
Changing patterns of marriage, cohabitation, separation, divorce and childbearing
and the life-course, and the diversity of contemporary family and household
structures.
The nature and extent of changes within the family, with reference to gender
roles, domestic labour and power relationships.
The nature of childhood and changes in the status of children in the family and
society.
Demographic trends in the UK since 1900; reasons for changes in birth rates,
death rates and family size.
What Is a Family/Household?
Household: a person living alone or a group of people living together. May or may not be
related.
Family:
1. A monogamous marriage between husband and wife with their dependant
child(ren) sharing the same home. (NUCLEAR FAMILY ­ EXCLUDES COHABITING
COUPLES)
2. Whatever those involved see as a family, is a family. (VERY BROAD ­ ANY GROUP
CAN COUNT AS A FAMILY i.e. ­ gay couples)
Topic 1 - COUPLES:
The Domestic Division of Labour:
PARSONS: Instrumental and expressive roles:
Traditional NUCLEAR family > segregated roles of husband and wife.
Talcott Parsons' (1955) functionalist family model has clear labour division
between men and women:
o Men: INSTRUMENTAL ROLE ­ breadwinner, provides financially for the
family.
o Women: EXPRESSIVE ROLE ­ primary socialisation of children, meeting
emotional needs of family, home-maker, full-time housewife.
Parsons argues that men and women are `naturally' suited to this division of
labour, and it will benefit men, women, children and society at large. NEW RIGHT
ALSO HOLD THIS VIEW.

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Wilmott and Young (1962) argue that men are taking a greater share in the
domestic role, their wives are going out to work: DUAL INCOME FAMILIES.
Feminists argue that in a PATRIARCHAL SOCIETY this labour division benefits the
men.
JOINT AND SEGREGATED CONJUGAL ROLES:
Elizabeth Bott (1957):
Segregated Conjugal Roles: the couple have separate roles within the family, i.e ­
male breadwinner, female homemaker.
Joint Conjugal Roles: Couples share housework and childcare, spending their
leisure time together.…read more

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These factors are interlinked, for instance ­ a dual income family increases the standard
of living for the family, which means the house can be made more attractive, and the
men would rather be there than at the pub, this means the family can afford more
labour saving devices to make housework easier and encourage men to do more of it.
FEMINISTS' VIEW OF HOUSEWORK:
Reject `March of Progress' view; families are still unequal.…read more

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Wives who did not work did 83% of the housework and part-time workers still
did 82%.
Wives who worked full-time did 73% of the housework, the longer the wife had
been in pain work, the more housework her husband was likely to do.
Couples whose PARENTS had a more equal relationship were more likely to share
housework equally.
The trend TOWARDS greater equality is due to a gradual change in VALUES;
gradually adapting to women being in full-time employment.…read more

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Lesbian Couples and Gender Scripts:
Dunne (1999) argues that society has deeply ingrained `gender scripts'
(expectations/norms that set out different gender roles for men and women).
These contribute to the inequality seen in HETEROSEXUAL families, according to
Dunne.
Dunne contrasted this situation to 37 cohabiting lesbian couples with dependant
children and found that in the HOMOSEXUAL couples there was greater evidence
of symmetry within the relationships.…read more

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Some Background Details:
Graham (1984) ­ women who had separated and were now living on benefits
stated that they and their children were better off because benefits were a more
reliable source of income that their ex husband.
Kempson (1994) ­ in low-income families women put the needs to their
husbands and children first, skipping meals or eating samller portions to make
ends meet.
In many households a woman is not entitled to a share of the household
resources as a right.…read more

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Catriona Mirrlees-Black's 1999 survey of 16,000 people estimates that there are
6.6 million domestic assaults annually, 50% (approx) of which involve physical
injury.
Kathryn Coleman et al (2007) found that women were more likely than men to
have experienced `intimate violence'.
Mirrlees-Black found that:
o Most victims are women.
o 99% of all incidents against women have been committed by men.
o Almost a quarter of women have been assaulted by a partner at some
point in their lives, an eighth repeatedly so.…read more

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RF fail to explain female DV against children and partners, or indeed, why the vast
majority of men are opposed to DV.
Wilkison: Domestic Violence, Inequality and Stress:
Sees DV as a result of stress on family members caused by social inequality.
Inequality means that some families have fewer resources than others, such as
income and housing. Those on lower incomes living in unsuitable accommodation
are more likely to feel higher levels of stress.…read more

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