Alan Warde and Kevin Hetherington (1993) claimed that men were only likely to carry out “routine female” tasks when women were not around to do them, after conducting a study in Manchester. This suggests that if women were to work then men would feel persuaded to take up some more (or some, if they were doing any) conjugal roles, and if women worked for longer hours, men would most likely take up some more conjugal roles for longer hours. Oakley claims the industrialisation in the 1800s led to paid work being separated from the home. In the past women would work, and even though they initially did work in the industrial labour force, they began to be excluded from the workplace and were made to work at home. The only work there was to do in the home was take care of the children and clean up the house, and this led to women being economically dependent on men. This is how the housewife role was socially constructed and accepted. In essence, it seems Oakley is saying that when women were working, household labour was equally divided. After women stopped working, it became unequal with women being expected to (and for most, having to) do more work at home than the husband.
Hilary Silver(1987) and Juliet Schor (1993) combat Warde and Hetherington’s point, stressing the economic developments that reduce the amount of work women do at home: goods that women would have been expected to do at home are now being sold in stores, reducing domestic labour and women working means they can afford to buy these things, along with housemaids and child-minders to take care of household chores and childcare respectively. This is also challenged, but by sociologists (specifically feminists) who claim women working doesn’t mean they’re more equal – it means they now have a “dual burden” to carry, paid and unpaid work (unpaid work being household labour). Elsa Ferri and Kate Smith (1996) claim both these things benefit men and that households are still as patriarchal as they were before despite these working women. Based on a sample of 1,589 33-year-old-fathers and mother, they found the father only took the main responsibility for childcare in less than 4% of the families.
A year later from Warde and Hetherington’s study, Jonathan Gershuny (1994) found that wives that worked full-time did less domestic work: women who didn’t work did 83% of the housework, but women who worked full-time did 73% of the housework. Part-time workers did more than full-time ones but still less than those who didn’t work – 82%. His point is backed up by Man-Yee Kan’s (2001) research, where she found that women who had a higher income did less housework. Every £10,000 increase in a woman’s salary decreased her weekly housework time by two hours, emphasising that women are becoming more equal as they are in paid work.
After analysis of the many perspectives and statistics made by the many different sociologists, it appears that most functionalist sociologists see a progression towards greater equality in the domestic division of labour apart from the feminists (with the exception of Warde and Hetherington). Seeing as these women are feminists, it may be the case that they are biased and possibly sexist because none of the feminists have shared any evidence-based opinions on women becoming more equal – just women being mistreated and exploited. The majority of the sociologists studied seem to bend towards women being equal, and these sources appear the most valid given that they are more recent.