Couples, (family and households)

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Division of labour 1

Parsons- instrumental/expressive roles ( functionalist)

Nuclear family - Biological.

This benifita both men+ women + children + society

Husband- instrumental role> achieving success at work / providing financially as breadqwinner

Wife- expressive role> primary socialisation of children/ meeting families emotional needs

Criticised by - young + willmott / feminists

Young+willmott - men are taking greater share of domestic tasks./ more wives are becoming wage earner

Feminists > reject the idea that labour is natural ( it only benifits men)

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Joint + segregated conjugal roles

Elizabeth Bott

Segregated conjugal roles > separate roles, separate leisure
male breadwinner/ female homemaker

Joint conjugal roles > couples share tasks ( housework/ childwork) 
spent leisure time together

Young + Willmott- study of working class in bethnal green.
Men > instrumental - leisure time was spent in pubs
Women > expressive - leisure time spent with female kin. 

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Symmetrical family

Young + Willmott > march of progress 
 family is improving for everyone > more equal + democratic/ roles similar (joint conjugal)

  • women go to work
  • men help with housework+ childcare
  • couples spend leisure time together (homecentres/privatised)

more common in young couples , geographically isolated

Symetrical family is a result of social changes

  • changes in womans position
  • geographically mobility
  • new technology-labour saving devices
  • higher standards of living 


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Feminist view of housework

Reject march of progress
Ann Oakley > claims Young + willmott exaggerated mens involvement
A husband could just help wives by making breakfast once every now and then.

Her own evidence > only 25% had high level of childcare help.
15% of husbands have high level of help in housework.
Fathers take an interest - look after children so they dont have to do domestic work (Gender domains) 

Hetherington > sex typing is strong.
women are 30X more likely to have done washing up last
Men are 4x more likely to have washed the car last.
Found men only carry out routine 'female' tasks when their partners werent around.

Found change in attitude of younger people though. 

Future foundation survey found out of 1000 adults that 60% of men claim to do more than their fathers.
75% women claim to do less housework than their mothers.
women spend 2.5 hours housework a day.  

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Oakley : the rise of housewife role

Oakley> the rise of the housewife role
Industrialisation led to separation of paid work
 women were part of labour force> women now confined to the home.
- Enforcing womens subordination + dependacne economically on men.

Housewife = socially constructed
contradictory to Parsons
 women likely to need flexible part time work  

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Impact of paid work

3/4 of married or cohabiting women are earning.
equal division of labour.

women now have a 'Dual Burden' of paid work and Domestic work.

Man-Yee Kan > employment income, age, education all effect amount of housework done!
Better paid, younger better educated.}
for every £10000 increase in pay, housework is reduced by 2 hours. 

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Gershuny : the trend towards equality

Gernshuny: the trend towards equality
women working full time is leading to equal divisionof labour.
wives who work do less domestic work.
Wives who didnt work did 83% of housework, full time 73%, part time 82%

couples with parents who have more equal roles are more likely to be equal.

* Gershuny says social values are adapting to working working full time.

Compton > the trend towards equality stems from economic factors rathen than values or role models.
As womens earnings increase, men do more in the home.
*however, earnings are unequal. womens 3/4 of mens.
concluding - whilst earnings are unequal so will division of labour.

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The commercialisation of housework

Silver + Schor > two economic development
1) housework is becomming commercialised. goods + services are affordable, fast good, ready meals etc.
2) working women can afford these services.

As a result, housework is decreased "Death of the housewife" 

Critisisms > poorer women cant afford these goods/services.
Even if commercialisation has reduced housework it doesnt prove couples share labour equally. 

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Dual burden

Feminists say there is little evidence of a new man.
> women now have to do paid work and housework.

Ferri+Smith > evidence dual burden.
increased employement of women but little impact on domestic division of labour.
Even when women works and husbands unemployed little evidence of men doing more at home.

Ramos> when men were unemployed and women working, men match domestic labour.
Middle class women often pay for nannies to avoid dual burden. 

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Emotional work + lesbian couples and gender script

Marsden > women have the 'labour of love' 
'Triple shift'  

Expectation of gender scripts in straight couples.
but in lesbians there is more equality.
Lesbians, more liklly to give equal opportunities+importance to both careers, view on childcare is positive.
Women can only be equal when in a same sex relationship> not based on patriarchal tradition.  

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Resources and decision making and paid work

Barrett and McIntoch > men gain far more from womens domestic work than they give back in financial support. 

  • financial support comes with srtings attatched
  • men decide on spending important items

Graham > over half single women on benifits separated from husbands say they are better off. 
Even if husbands earnings were high!
benifits are seen as a reliable source of income.

POOLING - is joint access to income and responsibility.
This is increasing > allowances are decreasing.
More common in joint full time working partners.
Men usually make financial decisions.
Womans lives are structures around mens careers. 

ALLOWANCE SYSTEM- men give wives a budget for family needs. 


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Domestic Violence

Womans aids federation "physical, psychological, sexual or financial violence that takes place in a relationship and forms controlling behaviour"

common view is that it is committed by a few sick individuals. 

From British Crime Survey : Domestic violence accounts for almost 1/6th of violent crimes.
Therefore is is too widespread to be a few sick individuals.

Mirrlees Black > 99% of all incidents against women are committed by men.

  • women more likely to be victims
  • nearly 1/4 women have been assaulted by a partner. > 1/8 repeatedly so!

Dobash + Dobash - found violent incidents often set off by women challenging mens authority.
They argue that marriage legitimates violence

Official statistics are unrepresentative - victims are unwilling to report to police as it is an institute of patriarchy.

Yearnship> women average 35 assaults before they report it.
Police may be reluctant to record/ investigate or prosecute as the family is seen as private. Agencies neglect the 'darker side' of family. 
women are free to leave - but this often isnt true as males hold economic power. 

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Radical feminist explanation

Millet + firestone > societies are founded on patriarchy. 
Men are the enemy- they oppress and exploit women.

Radical feminist > family is main source of oppression.
Domestic violence or threat of it preserves power.
Male dominance in state institutions explains reluctance of the police.

Elliot > argues that not all men are aggressive.
Radical feminists fail to explain female violence.
Child abuse from women + against males.

Black > 1/7 males have been assaulted by women. 1/20 repeatedly so.  

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Groups at risk

  • Children and young people
  • lower social classes
  • those in rented accomodation
  • those with low income or financial difficulties
  • those with high alcohol consumption
  • users of illegal drugs

In british crime survey, 39% of cases, the offender was under the influence of alcohol. 

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Domestic Violence, inequality and stress

Wilkinson > sees domestic violence as a result of stress caused by social inequality. 

inequality means fewer resources. eg income + housing.
low income + overcrowding = higher stress levels
Eg money worries that turn into conflict.
>> Lack of money / time restricts social circles + support for those under stress.
Less power/ status/ wealth/ income often at risk.

Wilkinsons approach shows how social inequality produces stress. > triggering conflict+ violence.
Explains differences in statistics.
Doesnt explain why women rather than men are main victims.  

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