Couples

Domestic Division of labour

Functionalist view: Parsons - division is based on biology (New Right agree)

  • The husband has an instrumental role to provide for the family financially by being the breadwinner
  • The wife has an expressive role aimed at primary socialisation of the children as a full time housewife rather than a wage earner

March of progress view: roles becoming more equal

  • Segregated conjugal roles - where the couple have seperate roles with a male breadwinner and female homemaker as in Parsons' roles
  • Joint conjugal roles - where the couple shares tasks such as housework and childcare and spend leisure time together
  • Young and Willmott see long term trend towards joint conjugal roles and symmetrical family

Feminist View: family is patriarchal

  • Reject idea of symmetry, litle has changed in family, Oakley argues Y&W are exagerated
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Are Couples becoming more equal?

March of Progress View:

  • Most women in paid work, this leads to more equal divisoin of domestic labour. Sullivan found women do less domestic work, men do more traditonal stuff, better division of domestic labour

Femenist View:

  • No greater equality, women carry duel burden (paid work + domestic work). Women also take respomsibilty for chil wellbeing, men only help with specific tasks.
  • Braun et al found most fathes were 'background fathers' - held provider ideology but didnt care for child as much as mother
  • Women also responsible for 'quality time'.
  • Duncombe & Marsden: triple shift- emotion work, domestic work and paid work
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Explaining gender division of labour

The cultural/ideological explanation of inequality -

In this view, the division of labour is determined by patriarchal norms and values that shape gender roles in our culture. Women perform more domestic labour simply because that is what society expects them to do

The material/economic explanation of inequality - 

In this view, the fact that women generally earn less than men means it is economically rational for women to do more of the housework and childcare while men spend more of their time earning money

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Same-Sex couples and gender scripts

Radical femenists: heterosexual relationships are inevitably patriarchal, contrast with Dunnes study of 37 lesbian couples, found more equal division of labour

  • Hetrosexuals: socialised into gender scripts that set out maculine and femenine roles and gender identities
  • Lesbians: didnt link househild tasks to gender scripts, more open to negotiation and therefore more equal
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Resources and decision making

Inequality in how the family's resources are shared out between men and women. Barrett & McIntosh: men gain more from women's domestic work than they give back in money and men make decisions about spending  a bigger say in decisons is that they earn more.

Two types of controll over family income:

  • The allowance system: men give their wives an allowance 
  • Pooling where both partners have access to income, joint responsibility on spending 

It is assumed that pooling leads to greater equality but if the pooled income is controlled by the husband they have greater power in major financial decisions. 

  • Material explanation: men have more power; earn more, women are economically dependant
  • Cultural: feminists argue gender socialisation in a patriarchal society=idea men make decisions

The Personel life perspective focuses on the meanings couples give to who controls the money. The meanings that money may have in relationships can't be assumed as we might say the husband controlling all the money is a sign of inequality but for some couples it might not have this meaning.

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Domestic Violence

Statistics: 1/4 women assulted by partner at one point in life. Police statistics under-estimate extent because of:

  • Under-reporting: domestic violence less likely to be reported to police, found avaerge 35 assults before contacting police 
  • Under-recording: police unwilling to record, investigate; unwilling to get involved in 'private sphere' of family

Radical Femenist explanation: 

domestic violence is evidence of patriarchy; all societies have been founded with men exploiting women. They see family and marriage as the key institutions in patriarchal society as men dominate women through domestic violence or the threat of it.

Materialist explanation: 

This focuses on economic and material factors such as inequalities in income to explain why some groups are more at risk than others. People such as children, elderly and poor are more likely to suffer; lack of resources and inequality (working class take frustration out on wife)

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