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

Assess the claim that the family has become increasingly symmetrical

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Assess the claim that the family has become increasingly symmetrical In the traditional nuclear family, the domestic divisions of labour of the husband and wife are segregated and independent from one another. The domestic division of labour refers to the roles that men and women play in relation to housework, childcare and paid work. The segregation of labour roles means that traditionally the man or husband would do heavy work such as household repairs whereas the woman would do cooking and cleaning. Conjugal roles are the relationships between husband and wife in a marriage. A conjugal role is the jobs duties and responsibilities the marriage partners take on and perform in the home. A number of sociological theorists such as Ann Oakley and Willmott and Young now reject this trend and argue that the family is becoming increasingly symmetrical. However others would disagree to this for example Dobash and Dobash believe the male still has firm control over all important decisions and over his wife. Michael Young and Peter Willmott studied families in London's Bethnal Green in 1973. They found that family roles are now becoming symmetrical and that the men do their fair share of domestic work. They see this as representing 'increased personal democracy' in the family. Willmott and Young take a 'march of progress' perspective on the family and its history. ...read more.

Middle

Oakley did her research and concluded that although there was evidence of men helping, there was no clue as to a trend towards symmetry. Oakley also found that husbands were more likely to help in childcare than anything else but only certain enjoyable aspects of it. Worryingly, the father's role was defined by couples as being able to 'take an interest' and that a good father would play with the kids in the evenings and 'take them off her hands' on a Sunday morning. This meant that mothers lost the rewards of childcare and had time only for more housework. So instead of seeing Willmott and Young's 'march of progress' Oakley sees the housewife role as becoming the dominant role for married women. Even though the 20th century saw an increase in the number of married women at work the housewife is still a primary female role. Working women are also mainly concentrated in low-paid jobs which are an extension of a housewife's role e.g. nursing and childcare. Sociologists Duncombe and Marsden agree with the feminist view that the division of labour is unequal and that society is still patriarchal. They interviewed 40 couples who had all been married for at least 15 years and came up with the 'Triple Shift' theory. In their interviews, Duncombe and Marsden found that not only do housewives do most of the housework as well as paid work but they also do 'emotional work'. ...read more.

Conclusion

Despite this some chores such as washing and ironing were done by women. Also, the numbers of households in which men are mainly responsible still form a small minority. However damning or conclusive any study is, it can always be criticised and have flaws. Firstly Ann Oakley's study was not widespread enough as only 40 people and they were only women. Duncombe and Marsden did the same thing and only used a small sample size but interviewed both partners instead of just women. Pahl's study was more reliable as she interviewed 102 couples both alone and together but it was too specific and looked only at financial aspects. The cases both for and against in this argument have weight but also have their weaknesses. Some studies were too exclusive and did not look at their subjects in relation to the rest of society. Therefore on the whole the evidence points to one of two things, either that yes there has been some movement towards equality in recent years with some conjugal roles becoming joint and men doing more work at home or that women are still some distance from the type of equality that men enjoy and they are still forced to take more responsibility for housework and as always have less influence in the family then their husbands. Finally, even where there are signs of equality such as the woman having a good wage and a full time job, changes in the family have been limited and therefore the family is not presently symmetrical. ...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

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

4 star(s)

Overall the essay needs more post-modern evidence and also needs to consider family structure in other societies other than Britain.

Marked by teacher Matthew Wilkin 04/04/2013

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. Compare and Contrast Marx and Weber's view on Stratification

    Social stratification is not merely a matter of class. Two further aspects also shape it: status and party. These three overlapping elements of stratification produce a vast number of potential positions within society, rather than the more rigid bipolar model, which Marx projected. According to Weber, social divisions derive not only from control or lack of control of the

  2. "Men and women have different roles to play in modern society." Discuss

    Most mothers, too, give their careers a lower priority compared to the child. Thus, with the mother accepting the child and household responsibilities, the father is left with the task of supporting the family. Thus the traditional gender roles remain intact.

  1. Compare and contrast the Marxist and Functionalist explanations of the role of religion in ...

    Turner believes that in the past religion was more important to the ruling class than peasants. This was because there was a need to pass on land to the eldest son (known as primogeniture), so the church defended marriage and the legitimacy of children and also religion provided a livelihood for younger sons.

  2. Discuss the relationship between social class and educational achievement.

    Sugarman's study was that of the "cultural deprivation theory," which implies that children of working class parents may have values etc, which are not favourable towards school life. Sugarman argues this is because they are socialised into these values by their parents and these values ultimately have their roots in the nature of their parents (manual)

  1. Machiavelli's Theory Of The State.

    He had to be ready to administer cruel punishment as in the long run "it is often kinder to be cruel than weak to maintain social order, strong action was needed to maintain social order and keep the state running smoothly."

  2. Introduction to Sociology - questions and answers

    questions which give higher validity as you can gain more truthfulness from answers given. 3. Outline one similarity and one difference between covert and overt participant observation. Compared to other research methods covert and overt produce high validity because you are watching and observing this is a similarity between the two.

  1. Social structure today has 4 main components: status, roles, groups, and institutions. Each ...

    All of these roles that are attached to a single status are considered to be a role set (Mooney). By being a student I can also predict certain things from my teachers who must act their roles of teachers. Because I know what the role of a teacher involves, I

  2. The role of Women in today's society.

    The traditional jobs such as midwifery or nursing, which were once dominated by females are now open to men and therefore women have been allowed to enter into the job vacancies left by men. A fine example of a successful woman with a career is portrayed in the American TV show "Sex and the City".

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