Impact of Paid Work

Impact of paid work on the symmetrical family

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Topic Three: Does it make sense to talk about the
patriarchal family?
The Impact of Paid Work
This handout will help you in the following essay questions:
How has paid work impacted the division of labour in the house? (24 marks)
(Can also be used with questions surrounding the division of labour)
Most of the women in Oakley's study were 1970's fulltime housewives many
houses now have a second income from the wives full or parttime work.
Today threequarters of married or cohabiting women in the UK are
economically active, as against fewer than half in 1970's.
Sociologists are interested if this trend towards both partners working is leading
to a more equal division of tasks, with a `new man' doing his fair share or do
women now have a `dual burden' doing paid and house work?
Gershuny (Patriarchal families no longer exist)
Gershuny found:
Nonworking wives did 83% of house work
Parttime wives did 82%
Wives who worked fulltime did 73% of housework
The longer the wife had been in fulltime work the more equal the relationship
Couples whose parents had an equal relationship were more likely to do so
Gershuny states the reason for this change was a change in values and parental
role models (gradually adapting to the fact women work fulltime)
Although men are doing more housework there is still a difference in the tasks
carried out.
Crompton accepts the division of labour is becoming more equal however
claims it is a result of economic factors not values or role models. Crompton
­ As women's earning power increases relative to men's, men do more
in the home

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Silver and Schor: The Commercialisation of Housework (Patriarchy no
longer exists)
Silver and Schor stress
the importance of two
major developments in
reducing the burden of
housework on women:
Housework has
Goods that housewives
used to produce
themselves are now
mass produced and supplied by supermarkets
Freezers, microwaves, `ready meals' etc all reduces the amount of domestic
labour that needs to be done.…read more

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The concept explained:
Feminists argue that the household is still a patriarchal environment where
men benefit from the women's earnings and their domestic labour.
Ferri and Smith show...
Increased employment for women outside of the home has had little impact
on the division of labour.…read more


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