Families and Households - Couples

  • Created by: malmond
  • Created on: 23-05-19 12:01

What is the domestic division of labour?

The roles men and women play in relation to housework, paidwork and childcare 

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Parsons - functionalist perspective

Bevlieved in the tradtional nuclear family 

Roles should be separate 

Husband = breadwinner - earns the money = instrumental role

Wife = socialises and cares for childs emotional and physical needs = expressive role

They believe that this is the best way for a smooth functioning society

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Believed that many couples still have segregated roles 

However..... she believes things were changing slowly because of more joint conjugal roles 

e.g couples sharing domestic tasks, childcare and leisure time

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Willmott and Young

Gradually overtime roles have shifted from separated to joint

Tasks although are not the same, are equally shared

This means that the family becomes more balanced

= The March of Progress (steady change)

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Disagrees with Willmott and Young

She argues that men and women roles are still segregated 

Women - Often does paid work AND do most of the domestic tasks and childcare 


She also found that only 15% of husbands had a high level of participation in housework

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Crompton and Lyonette

Why is there still a gendered division of labour?

Cultural or ideological explanation 

Because of patirarchal norms and values and how we are socialised

Material or economic explanation

Statistically women earn less than men, meaning it makes sense for women to do more unpaid work 

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Couples whose parents had an equal relatinship, are more likely to share housework

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Arber and Ginn

Better paid middle class women were able to buy commercially produced products and services

e.g labour saving devices - dishwasher

e.g childcare

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Duncomb and Marsden

Women have to perform a triple shift 

1) Housework

2) Paid work

3) Emotion work

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Willmott and Young

Rise of the symmetrical nuclear family because of major social changes

Such as changes in women's position (1970 equal pay act)

New technology

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How the roles of women have changed since the 70s?

They can now file for a divorce

**** in marriage became illegal

Contraception - can plan their furture

More of a social life - due to labour saving devices

Rise of feminism 

(Links to Sue Sharpe)

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Resources and Decision making in Households


In low income families, women put family before themself to make ends meet etc.

For example, they may not go out ith friends to save money


Very important decisions (such as moving house)are made either by the man alone or together

Pahl and Vogler

2 systems of money management 

1) The allowance system

Husband gives wife an allowance so she can budget but still meet needs

2) Pooling

Both partners have access to income - joint accounts etc

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Most gay men and lesbians attached no importance to who controlled the money

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Domestic Violence

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Issues with DV statistics



They may not see it s a crime 

May not want to get the abuser in trouble

Recording - police may be relucatnt to record because theres a lot of paper work

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Radical Feminist Explanation

It occurs because of patriarchal culture and ideology 

Men hold the power - use violence as a form of soical control 


Women commit DV too!

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The Materialist Explanation

It's about social and economic inequaility 

For example 

low income


poor housing 


What about wealthy people?

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Dobash and Dobash

Feminist approach

Marriage legitimates Domestic Violence - conferring power and authority on husbands

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Radical Feminist Explanation cont.

Millett and Firestone

All societies/institutions have been founded on patriarchy 


male domination in state institutions


Fail to explain which type of women are most at risk of DV

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Materialist Feminist Explanations cont.

Wilkinson and Pickett

DV is a result of stress on family members caused by social inequality 

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David Cheal

Police and other state agencies arent prepared to become involved in the family because:

Private sphere

Family is a good thing - tend to neglect the 'darker side'

Indivduals are free agents - women CAN leave abusive relationships

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Why don't DV victims leave the relationship?

Emotional reasons

Believe that th abuser will change 

Fear of the abser finding out they have reported them


Situational reasons

Economic dependence on th abuser

Fear of physical harm

Worry of emotional damage to children

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