Gender, Power & The Family

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  • Created by: Lilly
  • Created on: 09-01-13 15:31

Conjugal Roles

Conjugal roles: The roles of a husband and a wife within a marriag- may also be applied to male and females cohabitants.

There are two types of conjugal roles:

1) Segregated: The man is the breadwinner, with little inolvement in housework and childcare. Husbands tend to spend leisure time away from family with family with their male friends. Women spend time with female kin- sisters and mother.

2) Joint conjugal roles: Men & women go paid employment/work. Both are involved with housework and childcare. Men and women spend more time together and less time with own groups of same sex friends.

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The Symmetrical Family

Willmott & Young (1973) Radical P

  • Claimed that joint conjugal roles were becoming more common in symmetrical families.
  • They found a move towards greater equality, where both wife and husband work.

Ann Oakly (1974) Feminist

  • Criticises Willmott & Young
  • Her own research found that only 15% of men contributed significantly to housework and 30% to childcare.
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Childcare & Time

Mary Boulton (1983) Childcare

  • Argues that who does which task doesn't aequateltely represent the burden of responsibility within households.
  • Even when men help out with childcare it is women who prioritise children and childcare.

Gershuny(1999) Time

  • Studied data from beetween 1974-5 and 1997 to look at the long term trends
  • Found gradual shift towards men doing a higher proportion of housework, but women continue to do more htahn 60% of domestic work, even when both partners are working


  • Evidence suggests there continues to be significant differences in the conjugal roles of husband and wives although the degree of inequality has been reducing over time.


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Power and Money

 Hardill et al (1997) Power & decision making

  • Studies in Nottingham showed that men continued to be dominant in the majority of households

Jan Pahl (1989) Power & money

  • Classifed households into 4 types:

1- Huband controlled pooling, money was shared but husband dominated how it was spent, giving more power to men

2- Wife controlled pooling- money shared, wife dominated how it was spentm giving women greaer power

3-Husband control- husband has main wagem gives his wife housekeeping/ allowance, can lead to male dominance

4- Wife control, wife has overall control, perhaps giving husband allowance, most typical among benenfit families, appears to give women greater control, however they struggle to pay bills on low income

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Emotion Work & The Triple Shift

Emotion work= The time and effort involved in thinking about and producing the emotional well-being and happiness of others.

Jean Duncombe & Dennis Marsden (1995)

                                                   The Triple Shift

  • Believe that only measurement of inequality within households must take account of emotion work, whcih might include- smoothing over arguements, complementing otehr people
  • Believe that women perform the triple shift, doing housework and childcare, paid work and also emotion work.

Gillian Dunne (1999)  Study of Lesbian couples

  • Studied couples with deoendent children, found that childcare was fairly equaly shared.
  • Masculine and feminine roles in society tend to lead to hierarchal relationships and male dominance
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Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence: Actions involving the use of force or the threat of force against a current or former partner in an intimate relationship which are harmful to the other partner.                -----The Home Office (2000) say that Domestic violence can take different forsm: physical, sexual, emotional or financial abuse.

There are two main types of domestic violence:

1) Domestic Violence- violence and abuse perpebtrated by one ault partner against another

2) Child abuse- Violence and abuse perpebtrated by adults against children.

Nazroo (1999)

  • Research suggests that DV perpetrated by men agaisnt women tends to be more serious than that perpetrated by omwne against men.
  • Women are likely to be much more fearful of violence than men are
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One explanation of Domestic Violence

Erin Pizey (2974) Radical feminist

  • Sees it as resulting from patrirchy
  • In a patriarchal society, men use violence or threat of violence in order to control omwne
  • Argues that it is widely tolerated and often not seen as a serious crime
  • Patriarchal values lead to female partners being seen as property and therefore violence s a way of control and is acceptable to them

Liberal feminists recognise there has been some improvements in the treatment of DV victims

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2nd explanation of domestic violence

Fiona Brookman (2008) Feminist

  • The nature of masculinity is partly to blame
  • Can resort to violence if they feel they are losing control over their partner
  • A problem with this research is that it doesn't explain DV against men from women
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3rd explanation of Domestic violence

New Right

  • Believe that Domestic violence takes place in dysfunctional families
  • Domestic violence results from instability of families caused by factors such as: -incresing cohabitation and divorce, -declining moral standards in some families
  • This view suggests feminists exaggerate male violence and under estimate female violence

* Criticised by feminists who believe that male violence is much more serious and common than female violence

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Emotional Intensity & family life

Anthony Giddens (2006)

  • The nature of family makes DV more common
  • Family life characterized by 'emotional intencity and personal intamacy'- normally mixed with charged emotions and extended kinshipo networks may also increase intensity
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