Sociology: Couples (1.1)

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Domestic division of labour:

  • These are roles men and women play in paid work, housework and childcare.


  • Instrumental - Husband, tries to succed at work, financial provider and breadwinner.
  • Expressove - Wife, Socialises with children/emotional needs of the family and housewife.
  • Parsons says this is due to biological differences, e.g. natural.


  • Segregated conjugal roles - seperate roles, man = breadwinner, and women is housewife.
  • Joint conjugal roles - Couples share domestic work, e.g. housework and childcare.
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Domestic division of labour:


  • March of progress veiw.
  • Studied W.C extended families in 1950s = men were the breadwinner, wife = housewife.
  • But now family life is improving for all members.
  • Long tred away from segregated conjugal to joint conjugal roles.
    • Symmetrical family = both roles of couples are very similar.
    • Women now go to paid wok, FT/PT.
    • Men halp with childcare and housework.
    • Couples spend lesiure time together.
  • Study in London = S.F = common in young people as they a geographically and social isolated.
  • Couples away from the extended family are more symmetrical.
  • These changes have occured due to...
    • Change in women's position as married women work.
    • Geographical mobility - couples living together away from home.
    • New Technology and Labour saving devices, e.g. microwave oven.
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Domestic division of labour:


  • Reject the March of Progress view. 
  • Society is patriarchal and male dominated.
  • Women in families are still dependent on them.


  • Critices W+Y, they exaggurated their study.
  • They found women help wives once a week, this could be making breakfast or taking child for a walk on one occasion.
  • This is not enough to say roles are equal.
  • Study showed that husbands are helping, but don't take responsiblity.
  • e.g. 15% do housework and 25% childcare.
  • Did childcare as wife was too busy with Childcare.
  • Mary Boulton agrees, her study was similar and shows women are always responsible.


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Domestic division of labour:

    • Sex typing domestic tasks is strong e.g. women are 30x most likely to be the last one cleaning and men 5x likely to be last one who washed the car. 
    • Men only did female tasks when women were unable to do it.


  • Opposite of W+Y.
  • Housewife role is now dominant in married women.
  • industrialisation and rise in factory work separated paid wok from housework.
  • Women were gradualy excluded from workplace.
  • Made women economically dependent on men.
  • Housewife role is socially constructed not natural.
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Impact of paid work:

  • 1970, Oakley found that majority were full time housewives.
  • Now households have a 2nd income from wife.
  • May have resulted in a...
    • New Man - Men help with housework or childcare.
    • Dual Burden - Women now take on the housework role and paid work.



  • Women now working has led to equal work at home.
  • Found women in FT work did less housework at 73% compared to 83% of those who didn't.
  • May be due to parental models, couples of parents who had equal relationship and shared housework inspired them.
  • Says social values are changing but responsibilities aren't.
  • Oriel Sullivan - National representative data in 1975,1987 and 1997 = men did more domestic work and women tasks.
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Impact of paid work:

    • Accepts Gershuny's evidence but says it's due to economic factors, not parental model.
    • Women now have more power and equal to men so men do more housework.
    • Earnings are still unequal though as they 3/4 less than men.


  • Economic factors are developing to reduce the Dual Burden.
    • Housework = commercialised - Goods and services that wives did previously are now mass produced by supemarkets, fast foods, etc...
    • Women working - They can now buy these services.
  • Say Dual Burden has decreased and the Housewife role is dead.
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Impact of paid work:


  • Despite evidence of women working, there is little evidence of a 'new man'.
  • Women now do a dual burden of paidwork and housework.
  • This is still patrarchal as men benefit from both of women's work.
  • Ferri and Smith:
    • Evidence of Dual burden is shown as women in work has increased, but has not impacted domestic work especially responsibilities.
    • Sample of 1,500 3o year old parents = father's took responsibility in 4% of families, mainly for childen.
  • Morris - Men who lost their manly role of paid work, saw domestic work as a women's ole and then avoided it.
  • X.Ramos - Found in families where men aren't in work and women are = equal share of in housework.
  • Arber and Ginn - Middle class women have time for childcare as W/C don't, making them trapped in a circle of childare responsibilty and PT job.
  • Gregson and Lowe - Studied domestic help in M/C dual earner families who found it economical to get W/C nannies instead of staying at home to do the work. W/C women can't afford this which makes them have dual burden.
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Impact of paid work:

  • Emotion work - feature of managing one own and other peoples emotions.
  • Arlie Hochschild - uses this word to relate to jobs like aireline stewardness and women are more likely to be in emotional labour than men.
  • David Morgan - Applies this work to the family, e.g. caring for a sick child via physical care and monitering. 
  • Weeks: Same sex couples have equal roles due to negotiation.
    • Argue that women not only do a dual burden of housework and paid work but a Triple shift of housework, paid work and emotion work.


  • Dale Southerton - Mothers are responsible for managing quality time. 
  • This is hard to do in a 24/7 society
  • Mothers have work, career, leisure and family social activities to deal with too.
  • Mother's leisure time is also interrupted by childen where as men's are not.
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Impact of paid work:


  • Cultural/ideological explanation - Division of work is decided by patriarchal norms and values  that shape gender roles into our culture. Women peform domestic work as society expects them to.
  • Material/economic explanation - Women earn less which means is economically rational for women to do housework and childcare whilst men earn the money.


  • Equality can only be obtained until norms gender roles change, this involves changes in men and women attitudes, values and expectations.
  • Gershuny - Parents who had equal relationship = child more likely to share housework so Parental models are important. But now, social values on women working are changing.
  • Man Yee Kan - Younger men to more domestic work especially when compared to father. Women said they did less housework the mother.
  • BSA survey - Only 10% under 35s belived in division of labour against 30% of over 65s which shows a long term change in norms.
  • Gillian Dunne - Lesbian couples wee symmetrical due to no heteoesexual Gender scripts which are norms of different gender roles given to men and women.
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Impact of paid work:


  • If women joining paid work earn same as their partners then domestic work should be equal.
  • Kan - Found every £10k a year a woman earn she does 2 hours less housework weeky.
  • Sara Arber and Ginn - Middle Class were able to buy labour saving devices and services than do domestic tasks themselves.
  • Xavier Ramos - When a women is a beadwinner and man is unemployed, they do the same domestic work.
  • Sullivan - Working FT over PT makes a big difference in tems of how much domestic each partner does.
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Resource and Decision making:

  • Barret and McIntosh - Men get more from womens domestic work than they give in finance. Their financial support is usually unpredictable and has strings attatched.
  • Kempson - Low income families, women are dnied their needs, skip meals so that there complete tasks. 
  • Graham - 1/2 women on benefits who are separate from husband = their children are better off. Benefits are a reliable source of income.
  • But in some households, women = no share of resources, spends money on children. Resources are shared unequally leaving them in poverty.


  • Men have better share of resources as they have higher pay.
  • Paul and Vogler - Income effects decision making , 2 main types of control over income:
    • Pooling - Both couples have a joint expendature and share a bank account.
    • Allowance system - Man gives wife an allowance of a budget which that spend on family.
  • Pooling has increased frrom 20%-50% and allowance system fell from 36%-10%.
  • Pooling = Common in dual earning couples but men made key financial decisions.
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Resource and Decision making:

  • Hardills -  study of 30 dual earning couples found that men made key financial decisions, e.g. his career had priority on where they lived/moved.
  • Edgills - study of proffessional couples found:
    • Very Important decisions - E.g. Finance, changing job/house was made by husband.
    • Important decisions - Decided child's education or holiday was made jointly.
    • Less important decisions - Decoration and clothing was made by women.
  • Men had final say women were economically dependent on them.
  • But Femenists say this isn't due to unequal earnings but patriarchy.
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Domestic violence:

  • This could be physical, mental or sexual harm.
  • British crime survey - Domestic violence = 1/6th of crimes.
  • Black - Survey of 16,000 people estimate there's 6m domestic violence.
  • Most victims are women, 99% by men and 1% by women.
  • Dobash and Dobash - Police record = wives were slapped, pushed, beaten, ***** etc. Violence may be triggered if husband sees a challenge to his authority and say marriage gives this power to men.
  • Official stats say this = problem as victims are unwilling to report to the police/ police are reluctant to record the cases reported to them.
  • Cheal - Police are reluctant because -
    • Family is private and access by state agencies should be limited.
    • Family is a good thing, agencies reject the dark side of the family.
    • People are free agents and women can leave anytime.
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Domestic violence:


  • Family and marriage is the key reason for patriachy. Men dominate women via domestic violence too.
  • Domestic violence is a featue of a patriarchal society.
  • Male dominated institutions like police won't investigate it furthur due to patriarchy.
  • Violence over women shows mens power
  • Milltet and Firestone - All societies are patriarchal.
  • But radical feminists fail to explain domestic violence among same sex couple, mother child abuse.
  • Black - 1 in 7 men are assaulted by women.
  • 1 in 20 are repeatedly insulted.
  • Children, lower social clases, less finacially stable and alcohol/drug intakers are at risk. 
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Domestic violence:


  • Explain how domestic violence may be due to stress on family member due to inequality in society.
  • E.g. inequality in house means some have over crowded houses with higher levels of stress.
  • This increases conflict in relationships.
  • E.g. Worry over money means conflict and domestic violence via temper.
  • Not everyone has equal risk of domestic violence.
  • Those with less power, status are at greater risk
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