Parsons also argued that these different roles were ‘natural’ to benefit whole family. However Elizabeth Bott in 1957 put these divisions into ‘joint and segregated conjugal roles’, meaning that within the family roles were shared or divided, for example those roles could be divided like Parsons says instrumental and expressive role, or they can be shared which mean couples share tasks such as housework, childcare and spending their leisure time together. Segregated conjugal roles idea has been criticised as being too traditional by theorists who suggest that equality within the family has happened and that the ‘norm’ of gender roles is diminishing. Therefore, some sociologists say that in the modern society of today, the old functionalist view seems insignificant as it does not represent modern family life.
Even further Young and Willmott in 1973 take a march of progress view of the history of the family. They see family as gradually improving for each member of the family by becoming more equal and democratic. They argue that there has been a long-term trend away from segregated conjugal roles, and today in modern family life couples are toward joint conjugal roles and symmetrical family.This symmetrical families are those family where women is working, men help with housework and childcare, and couples spend time with their partners rather than with their workmates or relatives female. This brings advantages because if women if working she brings second wage to the family which will improve standard living of whole family, which encourage men to spend their time with their wives and extra money can be used for labour saving devices, which also can encourage men to help at home. In fact today not all women are earning the same as the wage as men.
Young and Willmott in their study of families in London that symmetrical families were more common in younger couples who have been socially isolated from the places that they were born. This show in theory gender roles and relationships are becoming more equal.
Second factor that have make gender roles and relationship become more equal is paid work of women because as I said above it brings advantages to the family by providing better living standards and equality in the family. This is mainly leading to more equal division of labour in home because as Jonathan Gershuny in 1994 said if wives are working full time they do 73% of the housework, whereas wives who didn’t work did 83% of the housework, this show men take some housework.. Gershuny explains this trend is toward greater equality in term of a gradual change in values and parents models. He argues that social values are adapting to fact women are working today. However, he found that men are more likely to housework, men still tend to take responsibilities for different tasks.
Furthermore even if women are working today, there is a little evidence of a ‘new man’ who does an equal share of domestic work and feminists argue that women have acquired dual burden of paid work and unpaid housework. This still make family patriarchal due to fact men benefit both from women's paid work and domestic labour they do at home.
Even though women are working we see there is inequality in who does what and how family resources are shared between men and women. This create link to who controls family’s income and who have power to make decisions about how it’s spent. Michelle Barrett and McIntosh in 1991 note that men gain more from women’s domestic work than they give back in financial support, the financial support that husbands gives to theirs wives is often unpredictable and comes with strings attached.
One reason why men often take a greater share of family’s resources is because they usually contribute more money, due to theirs higher earnings. Feminist sociologist Jan Pahl and Carolyn Vogler in 1993 focus on how each partner’s contribution to family income affects decision making within the family. In their research they found that two types of control over the income. Pooling, when both partners have access to income and joint responsibilities for expenditure, for example joint bank account. Allowance system, when men give their wives an allowance out of which they have to budget to meet the family needs and rest of money mainly kept by men. Vogler in 1994 found out that pooling is on increase from 19% to 50%, whereas allowance system decreased from 36% to 12%.
Irene Hardill in 1997 in her study examine 30 dual-career professional couples found out that decision were taken either by the man alone or jointly.The main decision that were taken likely by men are about moving home, taking loan, however if those decisions were taken jointly the man would have final say. Lastly there are also decision about child education or family holiday couples decide about it jointly but women have more to say where to go.