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TO WHAT EXTENT CAN THE CONTEMPORY FAMILY BE CONSIDERED MORE DEMOCRATIC AND EQUAL?

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Introduction

TO WHAT EXTENT CAN THE CONTEMPORY FAMILY BE CONSIDERED MORE DEMOCRATIC AND EQUAL In the course of this essay I shall be looking at the role of the family. In doing so I shall be examining various studies carried out, showing what the role of the family should be. This will include views by Willmott and Young, and contrasting ones of such authors as Ann Oakley, a feminist. The family is often looked upon as a social institution, a bond that joins individuals into families. This bond is reinforced by marriage, economic co-operation and sexual activity leading to the eventual conception of new life. This is typical of the viewpoint taken by functionalists such as Murdock, who saw that each member of the family had a role to play in order for it to be a success. This was a positive outlook for the family, however feminists such as Oakley believed this was not the case. From the late nineteenth century until the 1950's traditional relationships between a man and his wife could best be described as male dominated. This "Patriarchy" was based around the view of this era that the father was the undoubted head of the household. Whatever his viewpoints, values and needs were these would always be listened to and met. ...read more.

Middle

This study reflects Wilmot and Young's 'Symmetrical Family', which shows the conjugal roles as joint with the husband and wife carrying out similar and equal household tasks The vast majority of sociological research on Domestic Labour point to the fact that it is seen as an almost exclusively female domain. This was another important point noted by Oakley in her publication "Housewife"1974. The emergence of Dual income families has put further pressures on the modern family life. Martin and Roberts (1984) completed a study noting that when a woman takes on paid employment, there is only a marginal reduction in the time she spends on housework. Heid Hartman carried out research in USA ("The example of Housework" 1981) and found that full-time housewife's worked on average 60 hrs per week on household chores and when children were involved and extra 10 hours was added to domestic labour. In contrast, Hartmann concluded that males devoted only 11hours per week on household chores and with young children involved 5 hours a week were devoted to them. Men it was noted gave the same amount of time to domestic labour regardless of the extra work involved in raising children. It has been suggested by Stephen Edgell that women now generally have control over purchasing of food, clothing of the children, decoration of the family home etc whilst men decide the more 'serious' issues such as moving house, expensive purchase such as new cars etc. ...read more.

Conclusion

These people would be regarded as families of choice. In my conclusion I would suggest that in contemporary society the modern family in many ways may be deemed a more democratic one. However this by no means suggests that in modern society men and women are treated as equals. There are many ways in which this is far from being the case. In many modern households, men and women both tend to have jobs, but it is still mainly women who carry out the majority of domestic chores. In addition to this, one has to remember that domestic violence plays a large part in modern society. That is not to say that domestic violence was not always in existence. The fact is that there are many organisations nowadays for victims of this crime to turn to for support, such as Women's Aid and many help lines available. This is why this important issue is being recognised more and more. In contemporary society too, let's not forget the fact that family life is moving further away from what was the norm, being the nuclear family consisting of a male and female and their children. Nowadays the rise of divorce rates, pregnancy outside marriage and co-habiting are all major issues in contemporary family life. Also the more recent upsurge and proliferation of gay and lesbian relationships and marriages cannot be ignored. All these issues show how family life in the twenty-first century has radically changed. ...read more.

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