A symmetrical family is a family where ale the chores are shared equally between couples. Sociologists like Sullivan give reasons for a symmetrical family. An example of this is that there are more women working and that they are bringing in more money to help ensure that help can be hired, eg cleaners. Another example is commercialisation of housework, eg more ready meals, microwaves and washing machines mean that men do not mind doing these chores because they do not have to spend too much time on these tasks. Another example is the shifting social attitudes which mean that it is more accepted in society for men to do housework.
In early American culture it was common for a women’s job to be an obedient housewife in clear contrast to the male’s duty to be a job holder. From the time of birth males and females are beginning to learn their gender roles. Society begins teaching them certain values and creating in them certain behavior patterns acceptable to their social roles. These roles have been in the American society ever since the European colonized in America in 1492. Now-a-days men and women can be seen as having expanded their roles in society, with women entering male roles and men finding new ways to relate to and function in the family house.
There is much to say about gender roles and relationships and the view that they have become more equal. Item 2B mentions Gershuny who argues that there is a trend towards greater equality and says that there is often greater equality between the husband and wife IF the wife is in full time employment. His study’s identified a period of ‘lagged adaptation’ which is a time gap between the time when a woman starts paid work and t eh time where her husband increases his domestic activity. Devine would agree with Gershuny in the idea that we are moving towards greater equality but she identifies the fact that even though men are supposedly helping more, it is not enough and domestic labour is still seen as primarily the women’s responsibility.
The Difference between male and female attitude’s towards housework: Family of the Future Attitudes towards housework in nuclear families, kin that involve a couple with a child or children, have improved compared to the last ten or fifteen years ago in Canada. The difference between these changing attitudes has led towards a more equal division of work between genders within the household. The family as an institution continues to meet the basic needs of the members involved, but have taken on many shapes in size. This paper will compare the attitudes towards housework in a Canadian nuclear family. Historically, the division of the labor was based on the gender of the family member and house work was there to ensure the families survival as a unit for example cleaning and disinfecting the home ensured that there was no bacteria and germs were laying around to cause a family member or to get.
Examine the factors affecting the domestic division of labour and power relations. (24) Domestic labour consists mainly of childcare, housework and emotional maintenance for the family. Parsons, 1995, drew the conclusion that men and women have different roles within the family, with men expected to be the bread earners, and go out too work, whereas women, in most cases, had to stay at home and perform the various domestic labour tasks required of them. This included all the above mentioned tasks, and parsons stated that this was the "expressive" role, and that this system made things "nice and functional", stating that the respective genders were uniquely suited biologically for these roles. Power relations within a household refer to the control of decisions, finance and the families direction, and whom they are controlled by.
This is the belief that roles in the family are becoming more equal as time progresses. Functionalists believe that the symmetrical family where joint conjugal roles are in practice are becoming more common. In the 1970’s they announced the arrival of the symmetrical family, a family in which the roles of the man and women are joint. In the home a couple shares time and the amount of work they did. Men were seen to be increasingly helping with domestic chores, childcare and decision making about family life.
Furthermore functionalists believe that families offer material and emotional security and provide care and support. It was in the words of G.P. Murdock where he defined the meaning of the family: "The family is a social group characterized by common residence, economic cooperation and reproduction. It contains adults of both sexes, at least two of whom maintain a socially approved sexual relationship, and one or more children, own or adopted, of the sexually cohabiting adults." ~ (George Peter Murdock, 2004) Murdock (1949) went on to describe four main functions of the family which included; sexual relationships, economic cooperation among
Children also learn how to solve problems and assign household responsibilities and help each other through positive and negative issues. Children who have consistency and stability in there lives are more likely to behave positively and do well in school. Nuclear families are financially stable and are able to provide the children with greater opportunities and luxuries. Extended families are families who have three or more generations living together in the same house and are not of direct blood line consisting of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Extended families workloads are shared amongst members and the woman roles are often restricted to housewives and this involves cooking, cleaning and organising the entire household.
In their research they found that 72% of men help with housework at least once a week. This to them shows that the symmetrical family is emerging and that the delegation of tasks are becoming more shared between partners. To Support this argument Gershuny argued that men were doing more in the home, especially when women were involved in paid employment. Sullivan also supports the argument stating men only spent slightly more time on leisure than women and that the gap was continuing to narrow. In addition to these pieces of evidence, it is useful to introduce notions of “new men” and “super dads” here as they help to emphasis a change in attitudes This claim is however refuted by Anne Oakley who states that Wilmott and Young base their findings on 1 question only which only asked participants if they do any of the listed domestic work at least once a week.
Gender role change Aspects of the male and feminine roles have been easily tied together under the social-constructs heading for many years. The inter-relationship of both genders is a root cause for these social-constructs. Social-constructs have been placed into a hierarchical social system and invented and/or constructed by a number of different participants, who are already part of the system. Gender roles are currently changing as women are adopting masculine traits and have joined the bandwagon of their male counterparts to work where males have shown their dominance in the past. The normal characteristics that relate to femininity are softness and tenderness, prompting society to perceive a delusional falsehood that women are weak, unable to defend themselves.