Sociology Family Domestic division

The Domestic division of labour Key points 

-istrumental and expressive roles 

-Joint and segreated conjual roles 

-Symmetrical family 

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: hannah
  • Created on: 23-04-14 17:02

Instrumental and expressive roles

  • Traditional nuclear family, roles of husband and wife where segregated .

Example :

  • Husband had an istrumental role, So worked earned money for the family. The BREADWINNER.
  • Wife roles is expressive, socilaised the children and meet the emotional needs of the family. Homemaker, full-time house wife.  

Parsons Say's:

  • It based on BIOLOGICAL differences,women naturally suited to nurturing roles and male the procider. 
  • Benfits both male and women, and there children and to the wider socity. New rights also hold this view.


  • Michale Young and Peter Willmott aruge that men now are taking a greater share in domestic task and wife are becoming wage earners. 
  • Femnist rject parson view and the divison of labour only benfits men. 
1 of 5

Joint and segregated conjugal roles

Elizabeth Bott Say there two types of conjugal roles within marriage:

1. Segregated conjugal roles: where couples have separate roles e.g male breadwinner and female housewife. (parson instrumental and expressive roles) leisure activity also normaly separate. 

2.Joint conjugal roles: couples shared tasks e.g house work, childcare and they spend their leisure time together 


Young and Willmott found patterns of segregated conjugal roles, when they study tradtional working class extended families in east london. the men were breadwinner and played little part in the home life and spent much of there leisure time with workmates and the men's club. women were full-time housewife so had to do thehousework and look aftere the children, leisure time with femals kin. 

2 of 5

Symmetrical family

Young and Willmott take the "march of progress" view. The family life is gradually improving and becoming more equal and democratic. Now families are coming away from segregated conjugal roles and towards joint conjugal roles and the "symmetrical family". 

The roles of male and female are now similar:

  • Women now go to work, can be part time
  • Men now help with housework and childcare
  • Couples spend leisure time together
3 of 5

Why Is the family more Symmetrical?

Young and Willmott found that the symmetrical family is more common in younger couples

Young and Willmott see the rise of symmetrical nuclear family as a result of major social changes:

  • Chages in women's posistion-married women going to work
  • Geographical mobility - more couples living away from communities in which they grew up
  • New technology and labour saving devices 
  • Higher standard of living 

Many of the above factors are interl-linking. E.g women working earn more money improving the standard of living which encourges men to spend more time at home. couples can aslo buy labour- saving devices (dishwasher) making housework esier and men are encourged to do more. 

4 of 5

Feminist View

Feminist Reject the "march of Progress", the say little has change and men and women still reamin unequal in the family. Women still do most the housework. the family and society are male- dominated or patriarchal.

Ann Okaley criticeses Young and Willmott's view she say that yes their some evidence of husband helping in the home. However no evidnence of a trend towards it being symmetry. Only 15% of husbands did housework and 25% childcare. When husband did do childcare only plesurable aspects. 

Okaley : Rise in the housewife roles 

Housewife role had become donimate for married women. 

Factory production in 19th centery led to the speration of paid work and home. Women had be part of the industrial labour frouce, but thenwere gradually exculded from the workplace and confined to the home.Made resposiblie for housework and childcare. 

20th centery so married women starting to work but still did the housework, women had low-paid jobs which where also like linked to housework jobs. 

5 of 5


No comments have yet been made

Similar Sociology resources:

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