Sociology (families + households) - Couples

Domestic division of labour

Instrumental + Expressive roles-

  • Talcott Parsons (50s)-
    • Husband has instrumental role
      • achieves success at work
      • Breadwinner - provide finance for family
    • Wife has expressive role
      • socialisation of children, family emotional needs
      • Homemaker - full time housewife
    • Based on biological differences
      • Women suited to nurturing, men to providing

Criticisms-

  • Young + Willmott ('62)
    • men taking on more domestic tasks
  • Feminist sociologists
    • division of labour not natural, only benefits men
1 of 16

Domestic division of labour

Joint + segregated conjugal roles

  • Elizabeth Bott ('57)-
    • Segregated conjugal roles
      • male breadwinner + female homemaker
      • separate leisure time
    • Joint conjugal roles
      • tasks shared eg. housework + childcare
      • leisure time together

Young + Wilmott study

  • Identify this pattern in study of traditional w/c extended families
  • Bethnal Green, East London (50s)
  • Men were breadwinners
    • didnt help at home, spent leisure time with workmates
  • Women were full-time housewives
    • all childcare + housework, leisure with other women in family
2 of 16

Domestic division of labour

Symmetrical family

  • Young + Willmott ('73)-
    • 'March of progress' view
      • family life gradually becoming more equal
      • long term trend away from segregated roles + towards symmetrical family
    • Symmetrical family 
      • roles of husbands and wives now much more similar eg.
        • Men now help with housework + childcare
        • Women now go out to work
    • Study of families in London
      • symmetrical family more common amongst-
        • younger couples, geographically/socially isolated, more affluent

Rise of symmetrical families due to major social changes:

  • Changes in Women's positions
  • Geographical Mobility
3 of 16

Domestic division of labour

Feminist view

  • Ann Oakley ('74)-
    • Reject 'march of progress view'
      • Men + women remain unequal
      • Family + society are patriarchal / male dominated
    • Oakley criticizes symmetrical theory
      • argues claims are exaggerated
      • men don't help women enough for it to be equal
  • Oakley's research on housewives
    • 15% husbands had high level of participation in housework
    • 25% high level of participation in childcare
  • Husbands more likely to partake in 'pleasurable' aspects of childcare
    • results in mothers losing pleasures of childcare
  • 90s study by Warde + Hetherington
    • sex-typing of domestic tasks still strong
    • slight change of attitude in younger men
4 of 16

Childcare

Childcare

  • Boulton ('83)
    • Mother takes responsibility for child's security + wellbeing
      • men help by performing specific tasks only

Support for Boulton

  •  Ferri + Smith ('96)
    • fathers took responsibility for childcare in fewer than 4% of families
  • Dex + Ward (2007)
    • 78% played with children but 1% took care of sick children
  • Braun, Vincent + Ball (2011)
    • father main carer in 3/70 families
    • 'provider ideology + 'intensive mothering' in media
  • Duncombe + Marsden ('95)
    • women have to perform triple shift

 

5 of 16

Quality Time

Quality Time

Southerton (2011)

  • Scheduling + managing family's quality time falls to mothers - more difficult
    • Men and women have same amount of leisure
    • Men are uninterrupted and women multi-task
6 of 16

Gender division of labour

Gender division of labour

Crompton + Lyonette (2008)

  • Cultural / ideological explanation of inequality - patriarchal norms
  • material / economic explanation of inequality - women earn less than men

Cultural explanation evidence

  • Gershuny ('94)
    • Couples with more equal parents more likely to share housework themselves
    • parental role models important
    • social values gradually changing - women now working
  • Man Yee Kan (2001)
    • younger men do more domestic work
    • Future Foundation (2000) - men claim to do more housework than father, women do less than mother
    • suggests generational behaviour shift
7 of 16

Gender division of labour

  • British Social Attitudes Survery (2013)
    • <10% under 35s agree with traditional labour devision againts 30% over 65s
    • long term attitude change
    • equal relationships more in favour
  • Gillian Dunne ('99)
    • lesbian couples- more symmetrical relationships
    • absence of traditional hetero gender roles
8 of 16

Gender division of labour

Evidence for material explanation

  • Kan
    • for every £10k a year more a woman earns, she does 2 hours less housework a week
  • Sara Arber + Jay Ginn ('95)
    • better paid, m/c women more able to buy products / services eg. ready meals, childcare,
    • don't have to spend time on labour-intensive domestic tasks
  • Xavier Ramos (2003)
    • when woman is full time breadwinner + man is unemployed, he does as much domestic labour as she does
  • Sullivan
    • working full time rather than part time makes the biggest diff. in how much domestic work each partner does
    • may be because working full-time brings women's earnings closer to their partners
9 of 16

Resources and decision making

Resources

Barrett + McIntosh ('91)

  • Men gain more from women's domestic work than thehy give back in financial support
  • Financial support men give is unpredictable
  • Men make decisions about spending on important items

Kempson ('94)

  • Money + food not shared equally- low income women deny own needs
  • money on herself = should be on essentials for the children
  • adequate incomes- resources shared unequally

Pahl + Vogler ('93)

  • two types of control over income
    • allowance system
    • pooling
10 of 16

Resources and decision making

Decision making

  • Pahl + Vogler (2007)
    • men made major financial decision even when pooling
  • Hardill ('97)
    • 30 dual career professional couples
    • important decisions joint or man (his career priority)
  • Finch ('83)
    • Women's lives structured around husband's career
  • Edgell (1980)
    • study of professional couples' decisionswomen economically dependent = less decisions
      • very important - husband / joint, husband choice final
      • important - joint, seldom wife alone
      • less important - usually wife
  • Laurie + Gershung (2000)
    • '95- 70% of couples had equal say in decisions
    • high earning + well qualified women more likely to have equal say
11 of 16

Domestic Violence

Sociological standpoint on Domestic Violence

  • Home Office definition-
    • "Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality"
  • Coleman (2007)
    • violence more common with women across all 4 types: abuse, family abuse, sexual assault and stalking
  • Coleman + Osborne (2010)
    • 2 women a week killed by partner or former partner

Dobash + Dobash research-

  • Dobash and Dobash
    • used police and court records,
    • 109 interviews conducted by 2 female assistants
    • W/C and M/C women, age 16-60
12 of 16

Domestic Violence

Dobash + Dobash Findings

  • Challenge to authority leads to violent incidents
    • Marriage legitamises violence
      • early courtship shows loving relationship
      • conflict between couples - frequently result of jealousy
      • No indication of violence and isolation from friends + family

Evaluation

  • Not a reflection of patriarchy
    • Out of date + limited in successful prosecutions
    • Increase in reported incidents- 7.3% women, 5% men
    • narrow gender gap
  • Walby + Allen (2004)
    • women = victims of multiple abuse
  • Ansara + Hindin (2011)
    • women suffer more control - leads to psychological effects
13 of 16

Domestic Violence

Key Statistics

  • 1.9 million adults aged 16-59 years experienced domestic abuse in the last years
  • DA related crimes account for 32% of violence
  • 46 arrests per 100 DA related crimes (on average)
  • 70% of domestic homicide victimes are female

Material explanation

  • Inequality
    • some families have fewer resources than others
    • low income or overcowded house - leads to high stress levels
    • reduced chances of stable caring reltionships
      • increased rick of conflict
  • Wilkinson + Pickett
    • People with less power, status, wealth and income - higher risk of suffering
      • their approach shows how social inequalities produce conflict
      • do not explain why women are victims more than men
14 of 16

Domestic Violence

Marxist Feminsists

  • Fran Ansley
    • Wives - 'takers of sh*t'
    • product of capitalism - men take work stress out on wives
      • Fails to explain why not all male workers commit these acts
      • Doesn't account for cases of female domestic violence

Radical Feminists

  • See family and marriage as main source of women's oppression
    • within family - men dominate women through domestic violence or threats of it
      • helps to explain why domestic violence is mostly comitted by men
      • doesn't explain why men also face domestic violence
15 of 16

Domestic Violence

Becoming less equal:

  • Dobash + Dobash
    • marriage legitamises violence against women
  • Ansara + Hindin
    • pyschological effects more serious for women than men
  • Dar
    • statistics can't be reliable as women may live under constant threat
  • Radical feminism
    • Firestone + Millett patriarchal society

Becoming more equal:

  • Relatively narrow gender gap of 2.3% between men + women reported as victims of domestic violence
  • Elliot
    • most men opposed to domestic violence (very few use violence to control women)
  • Men are increasingly abused by their wives - under reported
  • Not all women are at risk (particular groups)
16 of 16

Comments

No comments have yet been made

Similar Sociology resources:

See all Sociology resources »See all Families and households resources »