Sociology - Unit 1

HideShow resource information


 Identified two different conjugal roles:

  • Segregated: A sharp division of labour between male breadwinner and female homemaker (similar to Parson's instrumental and expressive roles.) Husband and wife spend their leisure time separately.
  • Joint: Involves coupled sharing domestic tasks and leisure.


1 of 12


2 conjugal roles; the instrumental role of the male breadwinner and the expressive role of the female nurturer/carer.

He also believes the two main functions of the family are:

  • The Primary Socialisation of Children: basic values, how to speak, eat, the difference between right and wrong. 
  • The Stabilisation of Adult Personalities: (warm bath theory) -  the family helps to relieve stress and tension from work
2 of 12

Young and Wilmott

Found examples of segregated conjugal roles in working class extended families in Bethnal Green in the 1950's.

  • Men: Were breadwinners. They were not involved in the home, spending their leisure time with workmates

  • Women: Were full time housewives and child carers. Female relatives helped each other and spent their leisure time together. There was a sense of community as extended families often lives on the same road.

Also they saw a long-term trend towards joint conjugal roles and the symmetrical family:

  • Most women now go out to work
  • Men help with childcare and housework (the 'new man')
  • Couples spend more of their leisure time together. Men have become more home-centeres and the family more privatised. 
3 of 12

Ann Oakley

Argues that Young & Wilmott exaggerate the extent of the symmetrical family as their research shows that husbands help their wives with the housework once a week. They may also choose the easy or more masculine jobs such as taking the dog for a walk. 

She also argues that married women in paid employment are often concentrated in low paid, part-time jobs that are just an extension of the housewife role, such as childminding, dinner ladies, cleaners etc. 

4 of 12


Explains the trend towards greater equality in terms of a gradual change in the values of society. He found that: 

  • Wives who didn’t go to work did 83% of housework.
  • Wives who worked part-time did 82% of housework.
  • Wives who worked full-time did 73% of housework.
5 of 12

Pahl and Vogler

They identified two types on the way that family income is controlled: 

  • Pooling: Where both partners have access to and responsibility for income. 
  • Allowance: Where wives are given an allowance by their husbands.

Pooling is increasing and is more common among couples where both work full time. However, big decisions such as relocating for a new job tend to centre on the husbands career.

6 of 12


He argues that childhood as we know it is disappearing, and that children are becoming more like adults – gaining similar rights and acting in similar ways. 

7 of 12


Toxic Childhood - Rapid technology and cultural changes are damaging children’s development, e.g. junk food, computer games etc. Children are deprived of a genuine childhood. 

8 of 12


He argues that there is an age patriarchy of adult domination that keeps children subordinate. Adults exercise control over children’s time, space and bodies. Adults make children economically dependent by preventing them from working.

9 of 12


Functionalists believe that society is made up of different sub-systems that depend on each other, such as health care, education, law etc. And the family has 4 basic functions:

  • Stabilisation of the sex drive: If a woman is in a stable relationship, she will be more committed and may be less promiscuous. 
  • Reproduction of the next generation
  • Socialisation of the young: Families teach young children morals, how to talk, walk, eat, use the toilet etc. This is primary socialisation.
  • Meeting economic needs: Providing food, shelter etc; these are basic needs of the family.
10 of 12


Society is based on the inequality between the bourgeoisie and proletariats. Marxists do not believe in value consensus. They believe that all institutions in society (inc. family) function to preserve the inequalities of capitalism and prevent a revolution.

Ways in which the family helps to maintain capitalism:

  • Inheritance of property: The rich stay rich, as the more wealthy middle class have more property to give to their children, whereas the poorer working class may not have anything to hand down. Families were developed to ensure that property was passed down from generation to generation.
  • To pass on ruling class ideology: Children are instructed by parents to do what they are told without question. Well behaved children do as they are told. Much like the functioning of the hidden curriculum, the family helps to create passive unquestioning citizens. 
  • Unit of consumption: Parents are persuaded by children to provide goods they don’t need. Family is the ideal unit of consumption. 
11 of 12


Liberal feminists:

  • They are concerned with campaigning against sex discrimination. They hold views similar to those of ‘march of progress’ theories. They believe that the role of women is improving.

Marxist feminists:

  • Marxist feminists believe that the oppression of women in the family not only supports patriarchy but supports capitalism too. Women maintain and reproduce the labour force. Women absorb the anger created by work in capitalist society. Women are a reserve army of cheap labour. 

Radical feminists:

  • They believe that men are the enemy. Marriage and the family allow men to benefit from women’s unpaid work. 

Difference feminists:

  • They believe that it’s not possible to make generalisations about the position of women in society since there is no single experience. A middle class woman may have a different experience to a working class woman.
12 of 12


No comments have yet been made

Similar Sociology resources:

See all Sociology resources »