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During this essay I will be assessing the view that over the recent years the roles of both men and women have changed affecting society and the majority of households.

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Gender Essay During this essay I will be assessing the view that over the recent years the roles of both men and women have changed affecting society and the majority of households. In 1957 Elizabeth Bott as one of the first sociologists to study how the change of leisure, employment and lifestyle affected the roles of husbands and wives. She called these conjugal roles and claimed that there were two main types, segregated and joint. Segregated roles consisted of the splitting of the domestic tasks, where the men took care of the DIY tasks they carried the instrumental role. Women's tasks consisted of the cleaning, the cooking etc. they carried the expressive role. Joint roles meant the domestic labour within a household as distributed evenly. Willmott and Young studied the symmetrical family offering an alternative perspective on conjugal roles, claiming they had become increasingly similar. It appeared that division of labour based on gender was breaking down. Although, many did support this idea their work was challenged by feminist sociologists such as Ann Oakley. She provided some imperial research which dismissed the view of the sharing caring husband. Oakley based her research on interviews in which she had conducted on 40 married women with 1 or more dependant children. It showed that women saw housework and childcare as their prime responsibility and received little help from their husbands. Whereas Willmott and Young had claimed that 72% of men 'help in the house', this figure indicates that husbands only had to perform one household chore a week. Oakley stated that this is hardly convincing evidence of male domestication and women carried a dual burden, they go to work come home a follow out the domestic labour. However this evidence is 30 years out of date, but it does show that the roles of men and women are gradually moving towards equality and the symmetrical family but are still a long way from it. ...read more.


Fiona Devine conducted a small scale study of car worker's families in Luton indicating that men's contribution to domestic labour increased when their wives re-entered paid employment. But the man's role is still secondary; all women remain responsible for childcare and housework where their husband's merely help them. This evidence clearly shows a pure suggestion of division of labour in most household tasks, although the equality and change indicates the tasks are becoming joint due to women working. To help show this trend another piece of research came into focus by Jonathon Gershuny, in which he analysed data from 1974-1987. It showed a gradual increase in the amount of domestic tasks preformed by men, and this increase is greatest when women are in full-time paid employment. Husbands whose wives worked spent double the amount of time cooking and cleaning. Gershuny concludes that women still bear the main burden of domestic labour, and there is a process of lagged adaptation. He thinks it may take up a generation or more until men catch up and make an equal contribution. Much of the research into domestic labour and gender divisions is based on time-use studies. It has been found out that women underestimate time spent on domestic labour; this is due to them combining tasks. Whereas men tend to overestimate. Pleck conducted a study, showing men estimated they spent 11.3 hours a week on childcare; however their diary entries showed only 1.7 hours a week. Women's tasks such as cooking and washing the clothes are more urgent than typical male tasks like gardening. There is a big difference between helping with a task and being responsible for a task. Being responsible requires more thought and effort it is more tiring and stressful, and women take the responsibility while men just help out. Typical female tasks are described as boring and monotonous, while men's jobs are most likely to be described as creative and interesting. ...read more.


Domestic Labour ignores the emotional side to the family; this refers to love, praise, sympathy, understanding, reassurance and affection. Emotion work is gendered, making it yet again another responsibility for women. Duncombe and Marsden gave out 40 interviews to couples and by doing this they found many complaints from women of men's emotional distance. This is where the phrase 'triple shift' came into concept; women had to cope with paid work, housework/childcare and emotional work. In this aspect women's roles were changing, this goes against the fact that the roles of men and women are becoming increasingly similar. Decision making measures the concept of power, but doesn't take into account the importance of each decision. Stephen Edgell carried out a study interviewing 38 middle-aged couples to find out who made most of the decisions. In most cases, males made the important infrequent decisions, like buying a car and moving house, and women made the less important infrequent decisions based on the housework and children. This shows that husbands have more power over their wives. In the sense of non-decisions washing, cleaning, childcare and emotional work is seen as women's jobs because a man's job is more important and the female depends on them. Because men have less to gain from non-decision making jobs they are once again more powerful. Men gain and women lose. Recently women desire their traditional role of mother and housewife and accept their status below their husband. They prefer the other family members to benefit rather than themselves, they serve and sacrifice, and this shows the power of men. Men have the power and can persuade others to accept their subordinate position. This shows the tasks within a household are being shared but women know their role and aspire to it. To conclude, as you can see over the years men and women's role have changed. Some could say for the worst and others would say for the best. But overall they have become increasingly similar and throughout time domestic tasks may even be equal within a household. ?? ?? ?? ?? Karlie Whitmore ...read more.

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