7) The emergence of the symmetrical family

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Most sociologists think that Britain has moved from segregated conjugal roles to more integrated conjugal roles, the jobs within the family are more fairly spread between genders

Reasons for these changes:

  • Improved living standards at home have encouraged partners to become more home-centred, improving the relationship at home
  • Due to decrease in extended families there is less pressure on partners to retain traditional roles
  • Improved rights and status of women gains more respect
  • More women are in full employment. This means they have more power and are less dependant on men
  • There are weaker gender identities, so couples are not restrained by what society “says” they should be

Criticism of the view that relationships are really more equal

  • Inequalities in the division of labour – Research shows that women still perform many more housework chores than men, even when they are in a full-time job.
  • Perception of “equality” – As Ann Oakley points out, one of Young and Willmott’s evidence for equality of housework was that the 72% of men helped the women with at…


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