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"Outline and evaluate the feminist contribution to an understanding of contemporary family life"

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Introduction

"Outline and evaluate the feminist contribution to an understanding of contemporary family life" Over the years feminism has had an increasing impact on various different aspects of family life, one of these includes the family, areas of family life like domestic violence and housework were previously not really considered as aspects of sociology but were introduced by feminists. In highlighting these they have raised awareness as to women's role within society and the impact of domestic female Labour on economy as a whole, these ideas were previously not fully understood in society where male dominance was prevalent and often considered inevitable. Engles and Zaretsky were two women who acknowledged this factor and brought light to it in a Marxist perspective; they stated that women were often exploited in marriage and in households. They feel that this exploitation is inevitable and therefore the only real solution is to change the system as a whole. They argue that despite this the female role is still significant as by carrying out domestic duties they remove the majority of the burden from men thus making it easier for them to carry out their work and thereby they have an affect albeit indirect on the economy. ...read more.

Middle

Delphy and Leonard established the following factors as the main charactersiscs of the family as an ecnomic system: * Males are heads of households and the females are the helpers, at the time figures said one tenth of women were head of the household and only then when they were divorced, single or widowed * The male head is the leader and assigns roles to the rest of the family, The rest of the family may have veiws on the decisions to be taken but the final word is the head of the families. * The head of the household provides maintannce and support for the other members of the family and upon his death his wealth is shared out amongst the other members * The type of work that has to be done is assigned by the male head and varies by gender, the females carry out unpaid domestic work. * The money inherited is not related to the work carried out by the members of the family, they are also decided through gender and again the final word is had by the male head * The relation between the male head and the unpaid domestic workers is often non monetry i.e in the form of compassion, a gift or a holiday. ...read more.

Conclusion

There are many different versions of Radical feminists but all agree that the women are oppressed mainly for the benefit of men. The main criticisms of Radical femisim are: Delphy and Lenoard both continue to stress how the family is hierarchical and a system whereby men exploit women , they argue that women do most of the work yet get no real reward for this duty. But again this theory is generalised too much, it is based soley on the idea that all families have a controlling male head, if this is not the case and power is shared then the theory can not be correctly applied and it is increasingly the case that power within a family is not centralised towards one person Another major factor that is not accepted is the difference and variation between family types and situations, social class for example will no doubt have a large affect on the theory put forward as most reasearchers have found less inequlity in middle class families as apose to working class families Another factor that is not appreciated is the type of living environment that the family has, farming communites for example often have a shared work load between the males and females which are often very similair. ...read more.

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