Sociology: Family and Households

A Set Comprising of key sociologists, key words and theories in Unit One of the AQA Spec.

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  • Created by: Sadiya
  • Created on: 17-05-11 20:50

The Domestic Division Of Labour

Talcott Parsons (FUNCTIONALIST):

  • Clear division of spouses.
  • The husband- Instrumental Role (working, successful to provide for family)- Financial Breadwinner.
  • The wife- Expressive Role (Primary socialization)- Homemaker, not a wage earner.

CRITICISMS: YOUNG AND WILLMOTT, men are taking more household roles on and women earning. FEMINISTS, reject the view of this being natural- say it benefits male only.  

Elizabeth Bott (FEMINIST):

  • Division of conjugal roles (within marriage):-
    • Segregated conjugal roles: Seperate. Male breadwinner, female homemaker. Seperate leisure too.
    • Joint conjugal roles: Together. Male, Female shared roles, homemaking and Working. joint leisure activities.    
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The Domestic Division Of Labour


  • Family life is GRADUALLY IMPROVING
  • Argue that people are moving away from SEGREGATED CONJUGAL ROLES to JOINT CONJUGAL ROLES.

SYMMETRICAL FAMILY: This is the idea that a husband and wife's roles have become similar, if not the same. 


BETHNAL GREEN:  Symmetrical family common among young people. Affluent people with studied backgrounds. People living away from their families, likely to live a symmetrical lifestyle. They see this as the result of the major social changes that have taken place:

  • Changes in womens position- womens ability to study, and work after marriage.
  • Geographical mobility- living away from community.
  • New technology- machinery in factories etc.
  • Higher standards of living.
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The Domestic Division Of Labour


  • Rejects the 'March of progress' view
  • Basically reject view of SYMMETRICAL FAMILY. 
  • View this negative ideology from the Patriachal Society.
  • Women hold a subourdinate role- a supportive role in the FAMILY AND IN SOCIETY.


Her own study of housewives showed her that men play a SMALL role in the household which hardly equals to a symmetrical set of roles within a marriage.

She found: Husbands were more likely to take on the more rewarding jobs, looking after the kids in the evenings or on a weekend. this says that men got the rewarding aspect of childcare, women lost out and were left with housework.

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