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

The extent to which families have become 'Symmetrical' has been greatly exaggerated. Discuss

Extracts from this document...


The extent to which families have become 'Symmetrical' has been greatly exaggerated. Discuss The idea of the Symmetrical family is that of Willmott and Young following their research into family life in London. They found that the symmetrical family consists of a nuclear family that have become separated from their extended kin, the husband plays a bigger part in family life, the conjugal bond is strong and the family is home centred. Conjugal roles are similar in terms of contribution although there is still the divide of "men's and women's work" and the conjugal roles are not interchangeable although each spouse contributes equally to the running of the household. The rise of the Symmetrical Family can be attributed to many factors. There is less need to rely on extended family due to the welfare state, higher wages and less unemployment; there are more employment opportunities for women leading to shared financial responsibility; there are fewer children therefore enabling the wife to work; better living conditions mean the home is more ...read more.


Oakley's research was based on in depth interviews with unemployed housewives and her findings do not agree with that of Willmott and Young that the Symmetrical family is commonplace, this is possibly due to the fact that Oakley asked women about conjugal roles and Willmott and Young asked men, showing that the perception of who does the household chores differs greatly between the sexes. Oakley did find some evidence to support the claim of the Symmetrical Family, in her results she found men are more likely to help with childcare than they used to. However, according to the 1984 British Sociology Attitudes Survey this help seems to be restricted only to jobs the men actually enjoy such as playing with the children, Oakley found that very few men were willing to undesirable jobs such as change a dirty nappy. It would therefore appear that men can easily negotiate their way out of chores they do not like; a society with the ideology that women should be homemakers, makes it easier for them to do so. ...read more.


Family ideology has different meanings in reality. In Morris' and other surveys, partners agreed that tasks should be shared equally, but in practice they were not. If women see housework and childcare as their main role they will not want joint conjugal roles. The very assumption that husbands "help" their wives with domestic chores demonstrates that these jobs are seen as "women's work". Conjugal roles are constructed by people's views as to how they should behave. Until these views, as influenced by the media and other agents of socialisation, change, conjugal roles will remain largely segregated into male/female roles. Willmott and Young's idea of a "Symmetrical Family" is accepted by many as the ideology of today's family, however in reality the ideology of joint conjugal roles rarely materialises. The caring sharing "new man" has not emerged and conjugal roles remain primarily divided. Although equality in marriage has greatly improved in terms of joint decision making the actual day to day running of the household remains largely segregated into "men's and women's work" ...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)

    In their study, Willmott and Young generally found that the symmetrical family was most common in affluent, geographically and socially isolated young couples. For example couples who moved out of Bethnal green and away from family influences were more likely to be in a symmetrical relationship and that conjugal roles would be joint.

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

    After carrying out the experiment the ten couples who took part said they found it difficult recording what they thought was a task. Questions raised from the respondents included would walking the dog and taking the kids to school be considered a task?.

  1. Money and Power still remains with Caucasians

    This aim cannot be backed by quantitative data, as it is very difficult to obtain data of this sort. My interviews back each other as nearly all results say the same thing; there is almost hundred percent feedback that Caucasians do become more successful in later life than other ethnicities.

  2. Sociology - Womens and housework

    dishes, cloths and dusting, this finding was expectable because the wives (woman) do more of the house related work compare to men. I also investigated that men do more physical work such as gardening, washing cars because these are seen as manly jobs.

  1. Methodology For my study, I am investigating roles within middle class homes and whether ...

    A consequence of this is that it is not guaranteed that questionnaires will be filled in alone. I will be facing a theoretical problem of reliability because I am using quantitative research and as a result I will not be getting valid or truthful accounts of what it's like to

  2. Assess the claim that the family has become increasingly symmetrical

    In light of Willmott and Young's inaccuracy she conducted her own research on 40 housewives between the ages of 20 and 30, and found some evidence of husbands helping around the home, but no evidence of a symmetry trend, being that only 15% of husbands had a high level of

  1. Gender Socialisation

    F F F F F F F Vacuuming M M M M M M M Ironing F F F F F F F Washing up F F F F F F F Laundry F F F F F F F Childcare F F F F F F F Cleaning bathroom

  2. History of womens oppression in Afghanistan.

    (Gamson, 1992: 239) Gamson (1992) notes that there are three embedded layers in a collective identity; organisational, movement and soldiery groups. RAWA have done what Gamson (1992) claims is enlarging the personal identities of constituents to include the relevant collective identities as part of their definition of 'self '.

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