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Practise Exam Questions: Couples
1. Explain what is meant by the term "triple shift"?
When someone (usually women) does:
House work and
2. Identify two reasons why a `gender division of labour' continues to exist among couples.
A gender division of labour continues to exist among many couples because:
Socialisation at an early age means that women tend to do cleaning while men do DIY
Women are likely to work part time because they have other responsibilities like housework
and men work fulltime
3. Suggest three reasons why the symmetrical family may have become more common over
the last century.
The symmetrical family has become more common over the last century because:
The change in women's position women now go out to work as well as men
New technology makes housework easier so that men can also do it and
More couples living away from the areas they grew up in means they are socially isolated and
are more likely to have a symmetrical relationship
4. Using material from Item 2B and elsewhere assess the view that gender roles and
relationships have become more equal in modern family life.
Different sociologists have had different views to whether gender roles and relationships have become
more equal in modern family life. Researchers have examined different aspects of equality and inequality in
gender roles and relationships. Some have concentrated on the division of labour within the home whilst
others have tried to determine the distribution of power within marriage. Young and Willmott and Pahl and
Vogler are among those who have argued that gender roles and relationships have become more equal.
However many sociologists such as Feminist sociologists, Duncombe and Marsden, Oakley, Edgell and
Wilkinson have found little evidence of equality and argue that there is still a distinctive division.
Item 2B notes that "a number of changes have taken place in gender roles and relationships within families"
and there is evidence that shows this. Young and Willmott's study in the 1950's of families and kinship in
East London proves that families were traditional with segregated conjugal roles within households.
However, in their research in the 1970's Young and Willmott's march of progress view established that
family life is gradually improving and becoming more equal and democratic. Using Elizabeth Bott's two
distinctive marriage roles Young and Willmott believe that there has been a long termtrend away from
segregated conjugal roles and towards joint conjugal roles and the symmetrical family where the roles of
husband and wife, although not identical, are now much more similar.
Young and Willmott also claimed that 72% of husbands `help in the house' but it is Ann Oakley who criticises
this and points out that this figure includes husbands who did very little and only had to perform one
household chore a week. Oakley argues that even though the 20th century saw an increase in the number of
married women working, the housewife role is still women's primary role and that women have increasingly
been taking on a dual burden being expected to also have paid employment. As well as this, Oakley states
that women who work are concentrated in low paid jobs that are often an extension of the housewife role,
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Item 2B suggests that families including women who work have a much more equal family household. This
is verifiable in Young and Willmott's 1970's study of families in London where they found that the
symmetrical family was more common in families who are more affluent. They believe that the changes in
women's position are one of the main factors causing this rise of equality.…read more