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Assess the view that gender roles and relationships have become more equal in modern family life.

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Introduction

Suggest two reasons why lone-parent families are more likely to be headed by a female. (4 marks) One reason why lone-parent families are more likely to be headed by a female are courts are under the misperception that women are better parents than men. They see the bond between a mother and child as stronger than the bond between a father and child. Another reason is women are more likely to willing to give up work to care for the children than the father. Suggest two reasons why there has been an increase in one-person households. (Item 2A, line 3) (4 marks) One reason for the increase in one-person household is the increasing levels of divorce and the breakdown of traditional family values and structures. These contributed to the rise in single divorcee households as well as single-parent households. Another reason is the trend of young people delaying marriage often in order to achieve career goals. This has led to the rise of young, wealthy one-person households particularly in large urban areas. Using material from Item 2B and elsewhere, assess the view that gender roles and relationships have become more equal in modern family life. (24 marks) There are a variety of sociologists that have different views about whether they think gender roles and relationships have become more equal in modern family life. ...read more.

Middle

This enforced women's economic dependance on men. In this way, the housewife's role was socially constructed, rather than being women's 'natural' role, as Parsons claims. In Oakley's view, even though the 20th century saw an increase in the numebr of married women working, the housewife role is still women's primary role. Also, women who work are concentrated in low-paid jobs that are often an extension of the housewife role, such as nursing or childcare. This is suggested in Item 2b, "feminists are much more cautious about drawing such a conclusion. They point to the inequalities of power and control that persist in modern family relationships." This, therefore, reinforces the idea that gender roles have changed a little over the years but it is not substantial. Most of the women in Oakley's study in the 1970s were full-time housewives, but many mroe households now have a second income from the wife's full or part time work. Today, three quarters of married or cohabiting women in the UK are economically active, as against fewer than half in 1971. Some sociologists argue that women working full-time is leading to a more equal division of labour in the home. Jonathan Gershuny found that wives who worked full-time did less domestic work. ...read more.

Conclusion

Fatherhood has now become more equal as fathers are completing more childcare tasks and housework chores, and there is more call for social policies to encorporate men as parents as well as women, for example children's school reports to be sent to fathers as well as mothers. This is suggesting that gender roles and relationships are becoming more equal. In conclusion, sociologists disagree as to whether couples are becoming more equal. Functionalists and the New Right argue for the necessity of segregated conjugal roles based on biological differences betweem the sexes. However, 'march of progress' sociologists argue that the family is becoming more symmetrical, with joint conjugal roles. Feminists disagree, arguing that men's contribution remain's minimal and women now shoulder a dual burden of paid and unpaid work, or even perform a triple shift that includes emotion work. COuiples remain unequal in terms of desicion making and control of resources. Men earn more and are more likely to take the major decisions. Radical feminists argue that domestic violence is an extreme form of patriarchal power over women. However, though most victims are female, not all women are equally at risk. There is alot of evidence suggesting that equality doesn't exist in modern family life through things like domestic violence, and this far outweighs the possibility of a more equal family life; therefore suggesting that more social changes are needed before gender roles and relationships become more equal. ...read more.

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