The Domestic Division of Labour
The role that men and women play in relation to housework, childcare and paid work.
Parsons (1995): INSTRUMENTAL AND EXPRESSIVE ROLES
- A clear division of labour
- Husband - Instrumental Role: providing the family financial support. He is the breadwinner.
- Wife - Expressive Role: socialisation of children and helps with familys emotional needs. She is the homemaker.
- He said that husband and wife are 'naturally suited' to these roles.
- This is beneficial to men, women, children and society.
- The New Right perspective agrees with this.
- Young and Willmott (1962) - Domestic tasks are being shared more. Women are becoming wage earners.
- Feminists - Not natural and only benefits men.
The Domestic Division of Labour (2)
Elizabeth Bott (1957):
- Segregated conjugal roles: Male is breadwinner, female is homemaker. Roles are seperate.
- Joint conjugal roles: Roles are shared.
- Young and WIllmott study in east London, 1950s - A pattern of segregated conjugal roles in working-class extended families. Found that the symmetrical famliy more common in younger couples.
Young and Willmott (1973): MARCH OF PROGRESS VIEW
- A 'march of progress view'. - Family is gradually improving.
- Roles are becoming joint conjugal roles - husband and wife roles are much more similar.
- CHANGE: Women go to work more, men help with housework and childcare, couples spend leisure time together.
- BECAUSE: Changes of womans position (married women going to work), people are geographically mobile (living away from home communities), new technology (labour-saving devices) and higher standards of living.
- CLAIMS: 75% of men helped more in the house.
The Domestic Division of Labour (3)
Critique of 'March of Progress' view
- Feminists say that little has changed - still inequality.
- Society is patriarchal.
- Women are dependent on men.
- Ann Oakley (1974) - says that Y&W claims are exaggerated. Only 15% helped more with housework. Only 25% helped more with childcare. Men do more pleasurable tasks and women lost rewards of childcare. SUPPORTED EVIDENCE BY MARY BOULTON (1983).
- Always the mother who was responsible for childs security and well-being.
- HOWEVER: Changes in society over time shown. Future Foundations (2000) study -
60% Men claimed they did more housework than their fathers
75% Women claimed they did less housework than their mothers
- Office for National Statistics: Women spend over 2 1/2 hours on housework. Men spend just 1.
- On the other hand: some studies have shown that this is changing.
The Domestic Division of Labour (4)
Oakley (1974): RISE OF THE HOUSEWIFE ROLE
- Housewife role more dominant for married women.
- Industrialisation in 19th Century - women gradually excluded from the workplace and confined to home.
- Forced women to be economically dependent on men.
- Housewife role was socially constructed rather than being 'natural' as parsons claimed.
- Even though 20th Century saw increase in number of married women working, housewife role is still womans primary role.
The Impact of Paid Work
Man-Yee Kan (2001) found every £10,000 increase in the womans annual income reduces her weekly housework time by 2 hours.
Gershuny (1994) - Wives who work full time did less domestic work. Unemployed: 83% of the housework. Part-time: 82% of the housework. Full-time: 73% of the housework. Longer wife in paid work, more housework husband tended to do. OPTIMISTIC VIEW WHERE ROLES ARE BECOMING MORE CONJUGAL.
Commercialisation of housework
- Goods and services mass produced and supplied to supermarkets.
- Less time taken on housework.
- 'Dead the of the housewife role'.
- HOWEVER: for poor women, this is not an option. Does not prove that couples are sharing housework equally.
Dual & Triple Burden
- Feminists argue there is little evidence of a 'new man' with equal shares of tasks.
- Dual burden of paid work and unpaid work - Ferri and Smith (1996)
- Triple burden of paid work, housework and emotional work - Duncombe and Marsden (1995)
The Impact of Paid Work (2)
Lesbian Couples and Gender Scripts
- Dunne (1999) - the division of labour is because of gender scripts - expectations of what you should do.
- Study of 37 cohabiting lesbian couples with dependent children: Lesbians more likely to share roles – more symmetry in relationships. Roles shared equally, give equal importance to both partners careers & view childcare positively. SUPPORTS RADICAL FEMINIST VIEW.
- Weeks (1999) - Same sex relationships offer better possibilities of equality. Division of labour not based on patriarchal tradition.
- HOWEVER: Dunne's study also showed that one partner did more paid work and the other did more housework. Suggests paid work has big influence even on same-sex relationships.
Some evidence of paid work for women leads to more equality in the division of labour
Feminists argue that this effect is limited - dual/triple burden is present. Domestic tasks remain gendered.
Feminists say that problem is due to patriarchy.
Resources and Decision-Making in Households
Pahl & Vogler (1993): POOLING AND ALLOWANCE SYSTEM
- Pooling: both partners have access to income.
- Allowance System: men give wives an allowance which they have to budget to meet families needs. Man keeps surplus income for himself.
- Pooling is on increase - from 19% - 50%
- Allowance System on decline - from 36% - 12%
Edgell (1980): DECISION MAKING
- Study of couples. Very important decisions – MAN. Important decisions – JOINT. Less important decisions: WIFE.
Reason men take decisions is because they likely to earn more.
However, feminists argue that its not just due to earnings but also to cultural definition that men are decision-makers.
Domestic Violence: physical, psychological, sexual or financial violence that takes place within an intimate or family-type relationship.
British Crime Survey (2007): Domestic violence accounts for a 6th of all violent crime.
Kathryn Colemen el al (2007) - found that women were more likely than men to have experienced 'intimate violence'.
Mirrlees-Black (1999) study - found that most victims are women, 99% of all incidents against women are committed by men, nearly 1/4 women has been assaulted by a parter at sometime in her life and 1 in 8 repeatedly so.
Dobash & Dobash (1979) - Challenge to man’s authority led to domestic violence. Argue that marriage is key institution for domestic violence.
Stephanie Yearnshire (1997) - found that women suffer 35 assaults before reporting.
David Cheal (1991) – Police & other state agencies think that: Family life is private so access to it by state should be limited. Family is a good thing (they neglect the ‘dark side’ of the family). Women can leave if they wish (however, women are financially dependent on husbands & unable to leave).
Domestic Violence (2)
Radical Feminist Explanation:
- Say that dobash and dobash's findings are evidence of patriarchy.
- Kate Millett & Shulamith Firestone (1970)– all societies found on patriarchy. Men are the enemy & they oppress women. Marriage is main source of oppression. Domestic violence is inevitable feature of patriarchal society.
- Most domestic violence is committed by men and this is due to society's patriarchy.
- Elliot (1996) says that not all men are aggressive.
- Radical Feminists fail to explain female violence. Mirrlees-Black - 1 in 7 men had been assaulted. 1 in 20 repeatedly so.
Wilkinson (1996) - Domestic violence is the result of stress on family members caused by social inequality. E.g. worried about money, housing etc may spill over into domestic conflict. (Recession?)