conjugal roles and the domestic division of labour

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conjugal roles- the domestic division of labour between husband and wife; housework, paid work, child care, emotion work, decision making

segregated conjugal roles- split; different; traditional

joint conjugal roles- shared; interchangable

instrumental role- taking charge of family life

expressive role- caring for family emotional life

willmott and young 1973- the symmetrical family

  • used a questionnaire with more than 100 questions asking almost 2000 people in london about their domestic roles
  • the symmetrical family- nuclear, home centred and privatised, roles of husband wife are similar
  • stratified diffusion- new ideas of family life were started by the higher social classes and graduall filtered down to the lower classes
  • as the working class has come to enjoy shorter working hours, more comfortable homes and a higher standard of living, family life has become increasingly privatised and nuclear
  • less need for the traditional mutual aid network of the extended family
  • more opportunity to devote time and money to home and children

ann oakley in 'the sociology of housework' 1974

  • wives saw housework and childcare as their responsibility and recieved little help from their husbands
  • said the figure of 72% of married men claiming to help their partners at least once a week exaggerated the degree of symmetry
  • to be included in their figures, husbands only had to perform one household chore a week, hardly convincing evidence of male domestication
  • Oakley had a small sample
  • compared being a housework to working in a factory
  • it was mostly men who worked in factories and she wanted men to be sympathetic to her views

arlie hochschild

  • surveyed 145 dual income married couples as well as 45 other people involved in their lives
  • sample was mainly middle class and white
  • carried out in depth interviews with 10 of the couples
  • when men were asked 'tell me about your typical day' 46% made no reference to their home or domestic matters
  • about 70% shared 'reasonably closely'
  • as many as 33% did 'little or nothing to help'
  • wrote 'The Second Shift' in 1989
  • was called this to suggest that women did one shift of paid work and another of unpaid housework
  • weakness- small sample, unrepresentative, vague

duncombe and marsden 1993

  • the triple shift
  • added the issue of emotion work to the debate
  • emotion work- the love, sympathy, understanding, praise, reassurance and attention which are involved in maintaining relationships
  • claimed that emotion work is gendered
  • it is women who are responsible for it
  • most women complained of men's emotional distance
  • they felt they were the ones who provided reassurance, tenderness and sympathy
  • men showed little awareness of understanding of their shortcomings
  • the triple shift- paid work, housework and childcare, and emotion work
  • other research produced similar findings, despite the major increase in working women
  • Devine's small scale study of car workers in luton- tried to find out whether men's involvement in domestic labour increased when their wives re-entered paid employment
  • although their involvement increased, their position was secondary (1992)
  • Gershuny (1994) also found that women do the majority of housework and…


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