The next sociologist that relates to this topic is Edgell, who theorised that there are various degrees to decision making. He believes that the husband either takes charge or has the final say in very important decisions. Both the husband and the wife usually make important decisions together and the wife alone will make less important decisions. This opinion would suggest that roles within families are not becoming more equal because the man still has more say in the how the money is spent.
While it seems to be true that women usually decide what food to buy for the household, it can be argued whether that is a less important decision because the family would not be able to live sufficiently if the women came home with bags of only crisps and sweets. So, the level of importance can be disputed as it is one’s personal judgement. Also, moving house it can be said that if not moving house is more of a decision for the woman to have the final say on because she is usually the one that will keep it tidy and make it feel homely.
Another sociologist, Wilkinson, suggests that domestic violence, social inequality and stress are connected. He believes that social inequality gives rise to stress, which in turn, causes domestic violence. Using this notion, his reasoning is that people with low income or poor/overcrowded accommodation are more susceptible to domestic violence. Worries concerning little money and how to spend it on bills, food and other necessities lead to an overload of emotions, causing the person to react in the only way they feel possible: to let all the anger out. Although Wilkinson is not typically a Marxist, he seems to have a Marxist perception in the sense that he believes the social inequalities are caused by the economy.
A criticism of Wilkinson’s idea is that he assumes that all violence is caused by stress, when there are other theories, such as the person having genes that makes them violent or that they just have insecurities, which leads to violence. He also assumes that most victims are from a low social status because those of higher risk have economic troubles, when in fact people of high status will also be under a lot of stress and may resort to violence.
Young and Willmott argue that family life is gradually improving, becoming more equal. They believe that there has been a long-term trend towards joint conjugal roles and the symmetrical family. By this, they mean that roles between husbands and wives are becoming more similar and women go to work, even if it is part-time, and men help with domestic work. They have also noticed that couples spend their free time together, and they believe that this is more common in younger couples who are isolated and wealthy.
This concept insinuates that couples only spend their leisure time together because they don’t have any neighbours close enough to socialise with. It also generalises the age group that symmetrical families are more common in, but there will always be exceptions.
Another approach is that of Silver and Schor which emphasises the developments in reducing the burden of housework on women. An example of this is restaurants, as they decrease the amount of work that the wife has to do. If she doesn’t feel like cooking, she can easily order some food, and even get it delivered, which saves her having to prepare the food herself. Also, childcare is a big factor as parents can leave their children with a child-minder or nursery/after-school club for a few hours. This allows both parents to earn money if the wish, and ultimately gives them the option to order food, pay for a carer and other things like that.
There are numerous families that have a spouse staying at home in order to perform domestic tasks and look after children who may not be old enough to go to school. Therefore, their view excludes many people. Also, some families do not spend their money on fast food, as they take a healthy approach to food.
In conclusion, there are various factors that affect roles within the family, and everyone has a different opinion as to whether they are becoming more equal. The sociologists that believe roles within the family are becoming more shared are Young and Willmott, and Silver and Schor, whereas Barrett and McIntosh, Edgell, and Wilkinson disagree. Taking this into consideration, it seems that while roles are becoming more equal, there is still a long way to go as parts of society are still patriarchal. However, it can be argued that the progress that role equality is so great that it should overshadow the areas that still have one spouse or partner in charge, as society has developed so much since wives were practically seen as property of their wives worldwide, where it is only in areas and environments now.
Here's what a teacher thought of this essay
This essay aimed to evaluate whether roles within the family are becoming more equal. The writer did well to identify authors on both sides of the argument, and illustrate their key points. The work could have been improved by giving a few more current examples of roles being similar/still divided. Remember to give the year of the authors referred to and proofread carefully to pick up grammatical errors. 4/5