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

“The family is symmetrical.” Discuss

Extracts from this document...


"The family is symmetrical." Discuss In many societies, family life is organised around gender roles, so responsibilities within the family unit are often allocated to members according to their sex. This division of labour is often perceived to the product of a fundamental difference between the biological basis of men and women. However, this is a highly controversial assumption, usually applied to the cultural differences and what society needs and expects from the individual and the sexes. When referring to the 'symmetry' of the family, one is using the term to describe the equal division of conjugal roles. Early sociologists studied the effects of changing times within the family, and the impact this had on the division of roles. Elizabeth Bott developed the notions of 'segregated' and 'joint' conjugal roles, implying that the family is either symmetrical, or indeed, not. Joint conjugal roles are generally categorised by the sharing responsibilities, decision-making and leisure activities. Bott's research concluded that couples that have less dependency on social networks will generally share conjugal roles more equally. centering activities around the family unit and almost creating a microcosm within the household. With the reliance for support and leisure more heavily on the spouse rather than a separate circle of friends, centering activities around the family unit and almost creating a microcosm within the household. ...read more.


This complies with the results of a study completed by Fiona Devine in 1992, regarding car workers' families in Luton. An increasing number of women were working part-time, often resulting in a greater involvement by men with childcare, but not necessarily house-work. However, it was concluded that this involvement was generally due to financial needs, and the housework was still considered to be predominantly the work of the female. 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 spend on housework. Women are often perceived to continue with the burden of housework if their husbands are unemployed. However this view is generally varied -a higher reliance and association with male peer group generally makes them less likely. Such expectations of society implies that it is not necessarily a matter of role segregation, but a trend brought about by peer pressure. Home-centred men are seen to have a more "flexible approach to labour" as suggested by L. Morris, 1987. Women still often perceive an unfair balance within the household, whilst some argue that it is indeed a personal responsibility to do something about that within today's diverse society. ...read more.


However, this 'symmetry' within a family is generally considered to be an attribute to the modern, post-industrial, contemporary nuclear family. In an often conceivably post-modern world, one may perhaps look to the family as a post-modern entity; often beyond definition and categorical actualities. The diversity is so extreme that it is often hard to excruciating to place the term 'nuclear family' upon any clear definition. The family is an ever-changing notion, often in the loosest of terms, rapidly developing with surrounding sub-cultures and often idolising the current 'trend' which is being portrayed. The ideology of the family has never conclusively had the opportunity of a desirable amount of equality in order to 'choose' and share roles, without a certain breakdown of the original concept. One may consider that the family cannot be symmetrical, as surely it cannot stand still long enough to have the generalisation made within the present world. Although one could counter-argue that it is indeed this somewhat 'liberation' of equality which has resulted with the breakdown of the family. However, perhaps the most important objective is that a key issue with regard to examining the activities of the family, is that isolation from the rest of society is often necessary. One may consider that the segregation and distribution of conjugal roles in fact primarily a product of socialisation; despite how contemporary it may consider itself to be. ?? ?? ?? ?? Ayla Ozkan ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Sociology 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 GCSE Sociology essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Assess the claim that the family has become increasingly symmetrical

    4 star(s)

    They say that society and division of labour is still unequal and that we are still in a patriarchal society. Ann Oakley does not agree that the family is now symmetrical. She criticises Willmott and Young's conclusions as exaggerated. For example in interviews, most husbands reported helping out at least

  2. Changes in Family Roles

    for my first role to identify whether the roles within the family changed. The reason this was good was because I could ask the three different respondents what their individual role in the house is, I would then compare their answer and see whether it has changed or not.

  1. Is George Murdock's 'Nuclear Family' still, the norm in British society?

    people instead of 10 as this will allow me to have a more representative analysis of the population as it will include more of the population but will still allow me to easily turn my results into quantitative data. Overall, after completing my pilot study, I have found it extremely

  2. Rationale - I have decided to study the gender-oriented issue of conjugal roles in ...

    Nevertheless, women still do a greater share of domestic work. There is a strong gender division of tasks, with women doing routine household jobs. The article concludes that the traditional patterns remain very much in evidence and the rate at which men are learning to do female tasks may be

  1. Sociology - Womens and housework

    From the graph I also found out that women spent more hours doing the housework compare to men, 3 women spent 1-2 hours, 3 spent 2-3, 2 spent 3-4 and the other 2 spent 4 and more. I think the reason why 6 women spent less than 3 hours doing

  2. Choose a group which faces barriers in terms of participation in sport and leisure ...

    the arms of a strange man' (p16 Sport & Leisure July/Aug 1990). There was also a belief that cycling could 'transport a girl to prostitution.' (p16 as above). Sure women did take part on some sports but they were to remain feminine and graceful at all times, acceptance, Jenny Hargreaves

  1. My hypothesis is that "The modern family is not symmetrical due to inequality in ...

    The services a wife provides for her husband are not fixed or finite. A wife does not receive wages for her labour and she cannot change her husband in the way that workers can change their employers. These specific economic relations are the basis of what Delphy calls the 'domestic

  2. Discuss the contention that postmodern culture and post modern living arrangements are diverse, fluid ...

    Lone mothers headed the majority of lone parent families in spring 2002, with just one in ten headed by a lone father". (www.statistics.gov.uk) Living arrangements for men and women are broadly similar. Most live in a couple and "81 per cent of couple households live in owner occupied accommodation". (www.statistics.gov.uk)

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