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Outline and evaluate the arguments for and against the idea that there is a move towards a more equal division of labour within the home.

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Introduction

Outline and evaluate the arguments for and against the idea that there is a move towards a more equal division of labour within the home. In today's modern society there is a debate on going about whether or not that there is a move towards a more equal division of labour within the home and family. Sociologists are interested in many different aspects of family life. Firstly, are husbands and wives today equal? In the past, men dominated both the family and society at large. However, in recent years, there have been important moves towards equality, such as laws against sex discrimination and many more women going out to work. There is also the interest in how far there have been similar changes in the family. For example, do men do their fair share of the housework and childcare and do both spouses have an equal say in decision making? This is what I am going to evaluate. To begin with, the domestic division of labour refers to the roles that men and women play in relation to housework, childcare and paid work. The idea of a move towards a more equal division of labour simply means that both males and females do equal amounts of housework, childcare and paid work (joint conjugal roles). Parsons, a functionalist, would argue that there should not be an equal division of labour within the home. ...read more.

Middle

They stress the importance on housework becoming 'commercialised'. Goods and services that housewives previously had to previously have to produce themselves are now mass- meals are now supplied by fast food restaurants and supermarkets. Freezers and microwaves ect all reduce the amount of domestic labour that needs to be done. The second factor is that because women are working that means they can afford to buy these goods. As a result, silver and Schor argue, the burden of housework on women has decreased. Schor goes on further to say and make the claim that it has led to "the death of the housewife". However in criticism to the above points about the division of labour being equal within the home, to begin with the first challenge of Wilmott and Young's findings would be that their research and assumptions of that they could posit a typical family structure on the basis of their small sample of white, metropolitan families and, second their use of the word "symmetry". Today, there is masses of sociological evidence which illustrates the diversity of modern family structures. Therefore, the idea of any family structure being typical does not accord with reality. The premise of symmetry was a mistaken one, as many argue, what Wilmott and Young took for symmetry in the 1970's we take for inequality today. ...read more.

Conclusion

So could we be moving away from an equal division of labour? In conclusion, where does this leave the theory of the "symmetrical family"? I believe that we are not moving to a more equal division of labour by which Wilmott and Young explain it by. If anything, I believe that we will be moving towards conjugal roles by how Gershuny explains it. Where families socialise their children within a more equal division of labour and then hopefully it becomes more equal as they grow up and start their family and so on. But in addition to that, I also believe that some women are still being oppressed and can not escape the "double shift" or the dominance of males as feminists argue. If we were to adopt a postmodernism position, we would assert that traditional concepts such as 'the family' or 'the symmetrical family are redundant. A sociologist called Stacey uses the term 'post modern family' to signal the contrasted, ambivalent and undecided character of contemporary gender and kinship arrangements. It is no longer appropriate to use blanket concepts to describe sets of relationships which are inevitable fragile, based as they are upon the voluntary commitment of couples. I believe that what is needed is a new sociology which examines the rich variety of family lives, relationships and identity; which encompasses an understanding of intimacy and emotion rather than simply producing a sterile analysis of roles and structures. ...read more.

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