Sociology AS- Family and Households- Childhood

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Family:
A monogamous marriage between husband and wife with their
dependent children sharing the same home. (NUCLEAR FAMILY ­
EXCLUDES COHABITING COUPLES)
Whatever those involved see as a family, is a family. (VERY
BROAD ­ ANY GROUP CAN COUNT AS A FAMILY i.e. ­ gay
couples)
1. The domestic division of Labour
PARSONS: Instrumental and expressive roles:
In the Traditional NUCLEAR family > segregated roles of husband and wife.
Talcott Parsons' (1955) functionalist family model has clear labour division between men and
women:
Men: INSTRUMENTAL ROLE ­ breadwinner, provides financially for the family.
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. Some conservative and politicians (New Right)
also hold this view.
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. Leisure activities also tend to be separate.
Joint Conjugal Roles: Couples share housework and childcare, spending their leisure time
together.
Willmott and Young's study of traditional, extended working class families in Bethnal Green,
London in the 1950's. They identified a pattern of SEGREGATED CONJUGAL ROLES. The men were the
breadwinners, their wives homemakers, relying on an extended family structure of mothers, sisters,
cousins etc for support and leisure. Men spent their leisure time with each other at bars or clubs.
THE SYMMETRICAL FAMILY:
Willmott and Young (1973) ­ `March of Progress' view of the history of the family:
Family life is gradually improving for all members > greater equality/democracy.

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Long-term trend away from Segregated Conjugal Roles towards Joint Conjugal Roles and the
SYMMETRICAL FAMILY.
o Symmetrical Family ­ where the roles of the husband and wife are not identical but much
more similar than they used to be.
o Women are also breadwinners, though this may be part time.
o Men help out with housework and childcare.
o Couples are `privatised' > spend their leisure time together instead of with workmates or
female relatives.…read more

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A father might help with specific tasks, but was always the mother
responsible for child's security and well-being.
Warde and Hetherington (1993) did a study in Manchester, shows that gender roles
(sex-typing) for domestic tasks remains strong. For example, wives 30x more likely to have
been the last person to do the washing, husbands 4x more likely to be last person who
washed the car.
W&H found men would only carry out `female' tasks when their partner was not around to
do it.…read more

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The trend towards greater equality is due to a gradual change in values; gradually adapting to
women being in full-time employment. He found men are now doing more housework, but still
tend to take responsibility for different tasks.
Oriel O'Sullivan (2000) analysed nationally representative data from 1975, 1987 and 1997 and found
that there was an upwards trend towards greater equality in the family as men carried out a greater
domestic role.…read more

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Xavier Ramos (2003) however, found that where the man is unemployed and his partner is
in full time employment, the man's domestic work equals that of his partners (19 hours a
week).
0 Sara Arber and Jay Ginn 1995 point out, middle-class women may be able to afford
full-day-care, but many working-class women cannot. This means, they remain trapped in a
vicious circle of childcare responsibilities and low-paid, part-time employment.…read more

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However, Dunne found out that if one partner did vastly more paid work than the other; time spent
on domestic work was uneven.
Jeffery Weeks 1999 argues same-sex relationships offer greater possibilities of equality because
the division of labour is open to negotiation and agreement, not based on patriarchal tradition.…read more

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Allowance System: where a man gives his wife a certain amount of money every
week/month from which she must budget for the family's needs, the man the retains any
surplus income for himself.
Pooling is on the increase. Comparing a sample of 1,211 couples to their parents, Vogler (1994)
found an increase in pooling from 19% to 50% and a decrease from allowances from 36% to 12%.…read more

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Kathryn Coleman et al (2007) found that women were more likely than men to have experienced
`intimate violence', four types of abuse- partner abuse, family abuse, sexual assault and stalking.
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.
Confirmed by Dobash and Dobash's 1979 research in Scotland.…read more

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RF help explain why most domestic violence is committed by men, argue violence against women is
part of a patriarchal system that maintains men's power.
Faith Robertson Elliot 1996 rejects radical feminists claim that all men benefit from violence against
women . Not all men are aggressive and most are opposed to domestic violence, radical feminists
ignore this.
RF fail to explain female DV against children and partners, or indeed, why the vast majority of men
are opposed to DV.…read more

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