Sociology Unit 1 Revision Guide- Families and Households

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Sociology Unit 1: Families and Households
Topic 1: Couples
The main sociologists you need to know for this topic are:
Parsons: (Division of labour)
Bott: (Conjugal roles)
Young and Wilmott: (Bethnal Green study)
Oakley: (Feminist)
Gershuny: (Greater equality)
Dunne: (Lesbian couples and gender scripts)
Pahl and Vogler: (Family income control)
Dobash and Dobash: (Domestic violence)
Patriarchal family: A family that is male dominated, where the father makes the
The Domestic Division of Labour
He argues that the roles of husbands and wives were separate and distinct.
* Instrumental role: The man provides financially for the family, he is the breadwinner.
*Expressive role: The wife looks after the home, the children and the emotional needs
of the family.
He argues that this division is based on biological differences, women are more suited
to nurturing and men are more suited to providing.
She distinguishes two types of roles within marriage:
1. Joint conjugal role: Where couple share tasks such as housework and
2. Segregated conjugal role: Where couples have separate roles.
Studied working class families in Bethnal Green and found that many working class
families had segregated conjugal roles, and saw family life as improving for all member
and becoming more democratic.
Part II of the study, found younger families had a more symmetrical family (where the
roles of husband and wife were more similar.
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Sociology Unit 1: Families and Households
Changes in women's Women go out to work.
position. They are now more equal to men.
Legal differences, cultural differences and political
changes have contributed to these changes.
Geographical Mobility Moving around the country or from country to country.
They may move for a job.
This leads to an increase in the nuclear family, however they
are more isolated but more symmetrical.…read more

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Sociology Unit 1: Families and Households
The Dual Burden
The increase in the number of women working has simply given women the dual burden
of paid work and unpaid housework.
Women also take care of the emotional side of the family, such as children going
through puberty etc.
This means that women actually do a triple shift of housework, paid work and
emotional work.…read more

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Sociology Unit 1: Families and Households
Many important decisions were made by the husband, or jointly with the husband getting
the final say. Important decisions were made jointly and less important decisions were
made by the wife.
Couples and decision making
The "New Man" is a man that helps out with the housework, and moves along with the
times, instead of being traditional and oldfashioned.
Domestic Violence
Domestic violence accounts for almost one sixth of violent crime.…read more

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Sociology Unit 1: Families and Households
Problems with studying domestic violence
The difficulty of obtaining valid information on the subject.
Official police statistics rely on reports they receive from individuals
Methods of obtaining information may be invalid, as people might lie, refuse to
answer the question, exaggerate or forget information.
It is possible that male researchers may receive different answers to females.
Past paper questions on this topic:
Suggest two reasons why there has been an increase in cohabitation.…read more

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Sociology Unit 1: Families and Households
Childhood in the west
Western society has the following features:
Childhood is seen as a special, innocent time of life.
Children are seen as different from adults, they are physically immature and not
competent to run their own lives.
They need a lengthy protected period of nurturing and socialisation.
Childhood is a distinct life stage it is a separate status from adults.
Children are seen as the opposite of adults, with the right to happiness.…read more

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Sociology Unit 1: Families and Households
Children are better cared for in terms of their educational, psychological and
medical needs.
Most babies now survive: the infant mortality rate in 1900 was 154 now it is 5.
Higher living standards and smaller family sizes mean parents can afford to
provide for children's needs.
Children are protected from harm and exploitation by laws against child abuse
and child labour.…read more

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Sociology Unit 1: Families and Households
Change or continuity?
Some aspects of childhood suggest it may be disappearing or changing, others that it
is continuing. Much depends on what happens to:
The emphasis on children's rights.
The length of time spent in education.
Children's access to means of communication.
Growing similarities between children and adults in leisure activities, dress, diet
etc.…read more

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Sociology Unit 1: Families and Households
He argues that the functions of the family vary depending on the society. He identifies 2
family structures:
Extended: 3 generations in one area/house (grandparents, parents, children) horizontal
or vertical (parents, children, cousins, aunts and uncles)
Nuclear: 2 generations (2 parents, 2 children)
Parsons believes there has been a shift in the structure of the family when society
moved from preindustrial to industrial.…read more

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Sociology Unit 1: Families and Households
extended family.
This puts too much pressure on parents who take out their frustration on one another.
Family life can cause anxiety, depression and schizophrenia.
Parents invest too much in their children and expect too much of them.
Children therefore feel suffocated and this can make them ill.
The family acts like a pressure cooker, rather than soaking away the stresses and
strains of life.
Society is based on the inequality between the bourgeoisie and proletariats.…read more


Ibrahim - Team GR

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