AS Sociology- Gender, Power and Domestic Labour.

AS Sociology- Gender, Power and Domestic Labour. Family & Households- unit 1

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  • Created by: Pheebie
  • Created on: 30-03-12 14:44

Expressive and Instrumental roles

Talcott Parsons (1955)

  • Husband does instrumental roles- acheiving and success at work. He is the Breadwinner.
  • Wife does expressive roles- primary socialisation of children, meeting emotional needs of family. She is the Homemaker.

Division of labour is based on nature- women and men are naturally suited to those jobs.


  • Willmott & Young (1962) argue men now take a larger share of domestic tasks.
  • Feminists also reject this saying it's not natural- it only benefits men.
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Joint and Segregated Conjugal Roles

Elizabeth Bott (1957)

Segregated Conjugal roles:- Couples have separate roles. Female is home-maker, male is breadwinner. 

Joint Conjugal roles:- Couples share tasks e.g. housework & childcare.


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The Symmetrical Family

Willmott & Young (1973)

  • Families now have moved away from separate conjugal roles towards joint.
  • "Symmetrical family" is where mum & dad have the same jobs.
  • Women now go to work, men help with childcare and housework & couples spend more leisure time together.  

This is due to:

  • Changes in the position of women.
  • Geographical mobility.
  • New technology e.g. labour saving devices.
  • Higher standards of living.


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Feminist View of Housework

Anne Oakley (1974)

  • Criticises Willmott & Young- she  believes the family is still patriarchal.
  • Only 15% of husbands had high level of participation in housework and 25% had high level participation in childcare.

Mary Boulton (1983)

  • Fewer than 20% of husbands have a major role in childcare.
  • Willmott & Young exaggerate men's involvement.

Warde & Hetherington (1993)

  • Sex- typing of domestic roles is still strong.
  • Women are 30x more likely to have been the last one to have done the washing-up and men are 4x more likely to have washed the car.
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Rise of the Housewife Role

Anne Oakley

  • Since 19th century housewife role is dominant in married couple.
  • Women have been excluded from industrial labour force leaving them as home-makers.
  • This has enforced women to be reliant on women..
  • The 20th century did see an increase in working women but the housewife is still a wife's primary role. 


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Trend Towards Equality (1)

Gershundy (1994) 

Wife who work full time do less domestic work.

  • Wives who don't work do 83% of the housework, wives who work part time still do 82% of the housework.
  • Wives who don't work did 73% of the housework. More housework is likely to be done by the husband.
  • Couples whose parents had a more equal relationship were more likely to have one themselves.


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Impact of Paid Work (2)

Rosemary Compton (1997) 

As women's power increases around the workplace, mens power increases around the home.

Earning remains unequal however.


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Commercialisation of Housework

Silver & Schor (1993)

They stress the importance of reducing housework on women.

Housework= Commercialised goods and services that housewives previously produced can be supplied by supermarkets.

Women working:

  • Can afford to use/ buy these services.
  • These have lead to the 'death of the housewife roles.'
  • Critics argue for poorer women these services are not an option.
  • This doesn't means poorer couples share chores
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Dual Burden

Feminist Views

Dual Burden- Going to work all day & raising kids and doing housework.

Triple Shift- Housework and raising kids, going to work & doing emotional work and support.


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Just to let you know there is a mistake on card 5, women are reliant on men, not women. But overall, helpful :)

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