2 Examine critically the contribution of labelling theory to our understanding of deviance.
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Essay Question: "The New Man" is reputed to be liberated, caring and determined to share domestic responsibilities- traditionally the preserve of women". Critically assess the evidence for and against the view that domestic family life is becoming a partnership of equals. This assignment will critically assess the evidence for and against the view that domestic family life is becoming a partnership of equals. Young and Willmott (1973) refer to this as the symmetrical family. The symmetrical family is a family where the conjugal roles have become less segregated and more integrated. Conjugal roles are the roles played by the male and female partner in relationships where the couple are married or cohabiting. Traditionally men were expected to be the 'breadwinner' meaning that they were expected to work to provide for their family and women were seen as the 'homemaker' meaning they were believed that they should cook, clean and care for children. According to Elizabeth Bott (1957) it depends on the social network the couple had before marriage whether or not the couple will have integrated conjugal roles. 'The New Man' emerges from the symmetrical family. He is a man who is more sensitive to his and his family's emotions, committed to doing his fair share of household tasks and shows an interest in developing his parenting skills. According to Young and Willmott and other functionalists, there are six factors which account for growing equality within the family.
As Oakley points out, the seventy-two per cent of men that claimed to help their partners out in some way could have meant anything by 'help'. Such as tucking the children into bed or vacuuming occasionally and it is hardly evidence for equality in marriage. Rapoport and Rapoport's (1976) study of professional and business couples, found that although in full time demanding careers wives were still responsible for dealing with sick children, childcare and housework and primarily treated as housewives/mothers at home, this research was carried out on the group that Young and Willmott argued would be the most likely to display results that supported the idea that symmetry in marriage was prevalent. The unequal distribution of power and authority in marriage and cohabiting relationships again criticises the view that domestic life is becoming a partnership of equals. Most decisions that are seen by couples as very important, such as moving house, have the final decision made by men. Some important decisions may be taken jointly, very few are made by women alone. Egdall, in middle class couples (1980) discovered that women only made decisions that were seen as relatively unimportant such as, what colour to decorate the house, where to go shopping and how to dress the children. This was later backed up by a survey conducted by a well known financial service in June 2000.
Even when both partners have relatively successful careers, if a child is sick the woman is still the one expected to take time out of work. Having this domestic burden means that women have to sometimes take part time jobs, less pay and less chance of promotion therefore reinforcing the mans superior status in the economy and authority in the family. Because of the certain factors that influence the society that we live in today, it has been shown that 'The New Man' does exist. However not in the large numbers that Young and Willmott suggest. The emergence of the symmetrical family has bought with it shared responsibility. As traditional heavy industries and manufacturing jobs, which were once the domain of men, have declined. They have been replaced with jobs that have promoted more equality, such as the leisure industry and telesales. This has made it easier for women to support their families and have careers meaning men have more of a chance to share domestic duties. However the research on the conjugal role is unrepresentative of the population. Much of the research has been taken out on a very small number of couples in selected areas therefore the research cannot be said to reflect the whole of society. Much of the criticism levelled at the idea of shared conjugal roles and "The New Man" was offered by feminists, whose view is obviously bias towards men in general. [Word Count 1,446] ?? ?? ?? ?? Karley Ashfield
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