Power and Control

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  • Created by: J.E.C.
  • Created on: 13-05-14 16:45

Power and control in the family

Segregated division of labour - jobs associated with each gender.

Dual burden = paid work & domestic labour

Symmetrical family = male and female have an equal share of domestic labour.

Men gain more from women's domestic labour than they give in financial support (which is unpredictable and with strings attached)

Men usually make the decisions about spending on important items.

Families do not share resources such as food and money equally

In many households women have no entitlement to a share of household resources - women feel any money they could spend on themselves could be spent on essentials for children. Leaving women in poverty.

Kempson - among low income families women denied their own needs - going out / meals etc in order to make ends meet


Graham - over half of women who had separated from their husbands said they and their children were acually better off. Benefits were a more reliable source of income.

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Decision making and paid work

Men often have greater share of decision making because they contribute more money. Two main types of control over family income:

  > Pooling - both parents have access to income and joint responsibility for expenditure.

  > Alowance system - men give their wives an allowance out of which they have to budget to meet the family's needs. The man keeps any surplus for himself.

Pahl and Vogler - Pooling is on the increase from 19% to 50%. Sharp decline in housekeeping allowance from 36% to 12%. Pooling more common among couples in which both work full time.

Hardill - Man's career usually took priority when deciding whether to move house for a new job.

Finch - Women's lives tend to be structured around their husband's careers.

Edgell - very important decisions taken by husband alone or joint but husband has final say. Less important decisions usually taken by the wife.

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Wilmott & Young - traditional segregated division of labour is breaking down - relationship becoming more symmetrical. Egalitarian marriage caused by decline in extended family > privatised nuclear family.

Dryden - women still have major responsibility for housework and childcare.

Ladar et al

> Men today more involved in domestic tasks than their fathers and grandfathers. 

> Women in paid work spent 21 hours a week doing housework, men only 12.

 > 92% of women did some housework everyday and only 77% of men do.

> Little evidence to suggest sexual division of labour is changing.

> Only DIY / gardening tasks were male dominated

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British Household Panel Survey - whatever the work / domestic setup - women do more work in the home. Men view it as unmasculine.

Mckee & Bell - Unemployed men found it degrading to do housework or be 'kept' by their wives. Women are still likely to experience dual burden.

Green - women interpret leisure time as spare time free of paid work and family commitments, whereas men view it as all time out of paid work.

Kilkey - Working parents experience 'time famine' so delegate childcare to external carers / grandparents

Bitman & Pixley - inequality is a major cause of divorce.

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Ann Oakley


> Make links between women's oppression and housework. Housework & patriarchy.


> Women did an average of 77 hours of housework a week

> No interaction with others

> Housework: dissatisfying, repetitive, boring, not acknowledged

> Even if women worked the same hours as men outside the home they still did 9 hours more domestic labour a week.

Rejects the 'march of progress' view

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Jonathan Gershuny


> Women who work full time do less domestic work

> Wives who did not work did 83% of the housework and

> Wives who worked full time did 73%

> Couples whose parents had a more equal relationship were more likely to share housework more.

> Gradual changes in values and parental role models.

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Caroline Gatrell

Hard Labour: the sociology of parenthood....

 > Some mothers experienced physical / mental health problems when returning to work.

 > Women devoted less time to their partners = permanently tired / emotionally unprepared.

 > New mothers feel guilt over who should be main carer for their preschool child

 > New mothers - work conflicted with domestic labour, which becomes female after birth of child - women accept this to preserve relationship.

 > Fathers in dual career households - more involved with children

 > Fathers criticised for commiting to their children and reducing work.

 > Mothers felt their full time motherhood lacked social status and stimulation.

 > Mothers demoted because of going back part-time

 > Family-friendly and equality legislation is ineffective.

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Innes and Scott

> Forward thinking required to be able to cope with caring needs and employment / training.

> Domestic labour takes place in the presence of children

> Need family support in the event of school closure days / emergencies.

> Mothers often supoorting older / sick relatives as well as children

> Time management - picking children up from school etc - limits work available

> Women gained self-confidence through work and set good example

> Families need good childcare & family friendly services

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Domestic Abuse

The dark side of the family

1 incident of domestic abuse reported to the police every minute

More than 40% of domestic violence victims are male

31% of women and 18% have experienced domestic abuse since the age of 16

800,000 cases reported in 2011/12 but conviction rates as low as 6.5%.

Physical: biting, bruising,scalding, slapping, punching, kicking or starving.

Sexual: ****, forced pregnancy / termination, withdrawal of contraception, enforced prostitution

Emotional: undermining, criticism, financial deprivation, constraints on socialising, sleep deprivation, verbal abuse, controlling behaviour, constant abusive texts / calls

Case study - Justin Lee Collins

> Made girlfriend sleep facing him. > Belittled her > Threats > Ridicule > Told to abandon email / facebook accounts

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Agencies, feminists and studies...

Police and prosecutors do not want to become involved in the family because...

 > Family is a private sphere - acess by state agencies is limited

 > Agencies tend to neglect the 'dark side of the family' = family is meant to be 'good'

 > Assumed that if a woman is experiencing abuse, she is free to leave - no the case because usually coupled with financial controls.

Radical feminists > Family and marriage are key institutions in patriarchal society = main source of womens oppression. > Domestic abuse is part of patriarchal system that maintains mens power over women.

Elliot - Not all men are aggressive & most are opposed to domestic violence.

Wilkinson - worries about money, jobs & housing may cause domestic conflict. Lack of money and time - restricts social circle and support available for those under stress. 

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