Assess the View That Gender Roles and Relationships Have Become More Equal in Modern Family Life

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Assess the view that gender roles and relationships have become more equal in modern family life (24 marks) : The domestic division of labour refers to the roles that men and women play in relation to housework, childcare and paid work. Sociologists are interested in whether men and women share domestic tasks equally. Talcott Parsons (1955) argues that this division of labour is based on biological differences, with women ‘naturally’ suited to the nurturing role and men to that of provider. He claims that this division of labour is beneficial to both men and women, to their children and to wider society. In Talcott Parsons functionalist model of the family there is a clear division of labour between the two spouse, ‘Instrumental’ and ‘Expressive’ roles.. Talcott Parsons states that the husband has an instrumental role, geared towards achieving success at work so that he can provide for the family financial, he is the breadwinner. The wife however has an expressive role, geared towards primary socialisation of the children and meeting the family’s emotional needs. The wife is seen as the homemaker, full time housewife rather than a wage earner. Although some politicians and the New right share this view with Talcott Parsons, others have criticised Parsons for e.g. Michael Young and Peter Wilmott (1962) who argue that men are now taking a greater share of domestic tasks and more wives are becoming wage earners. Feminist sociologists also reject Parsons’ view, they argue that the Division of Labour is not natural – the division only benefits men. Conjugal Roles are roles of the husband and wife within the home. Elizabeth Bott (1957) studied how jobs and roles within the family were allocated to men and women in modern industrial Britain. Bott identified two ways household jobs can be shared: Segregated roles – Husband and wives lead separate lives with
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