• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

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.

Extracts from this document...


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 However this evidence is 30 years out of date, but it does show that the roles of men and women are gradually moving towards equality and the symmetrical family but are still a long way from it.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.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Sociological Differentiation & Stratification section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Sociological Differentiation & Stratification essays

  1. Examine the ways in which state policy may affect families and households.

    Valerie Riches, the founder of a organisation called family and youth concern, she argues that sending housewives out to work is bad for the family as it means that men's "masculine role as the provider and father is being obliterated.

  2. How has the family changed over the last 100 years

    a nuclear family at first because everyone has got a mother and a father. Bettleheim also argued that this does not fit Murdock's definition, on two grounds, the first ground is family do not have accommodation and secondly families do not have economic co-operation.

  1. Discuss the view that conjugal roles are becoming joint in families.

    Duncombe and Dennis Marsden (1995) research indicated that there is inequality in terms of work within the family. Women have to carry out a "triple shift" because they have to meet the demands of paid employment as well as household demands and looking after the family's requirements.

  2. Gender Roles

    earn more money or do better jobs than them, but they may also feel jealous of other woman competing for the job they want. Women realise that they could suffer within their career for taking time off for childbirth and therefore miss promotion opportunities.

  1. Are women more religious than men

    This is related to religiosity as it coincides with well being and thoughts of church from the female point of view.

  2. Examine the extent to which husbands and wives now have a relationship based on ...

    Other studies that looked at the division of labour are the following; * Dryden (1999) who studied 17 married couples and found that women still had the major responsibility for housework and childcare. * A survey carried out for the insurance firm Legal & General in April 2000 found that

  1. My sociology coursework is about the segregated conjugal roles between men and women in ...

    the respondents can answer them giving as much or little detail as they feel comfortable revealing about their household duties. The questionnaires will be self-completion questionnaires. I am aware that they have a lower response rate and also sometimes problems occur when there are misunderstandings of questions.

  2. To the study of effect of industrialisation in Kolam village of Raigarh district of ...

    7.2.6. Significance of study In current situation when population is increasing at a high growth rate and giant of unemployment spreading everywhere with open mouth. As in this village, to depend only on agriculture throughout the year for livelihood is not possible by many of the rural people, so there is

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work