According to Parsons, husbands are the breadwinners and the wife has the nurtring and caring role and that this is based on biological differences between the sexes, a view shared by the New Right. However, this can be criticised using Willmott and Young’s findings, which show that men are now doing the housework and women are going out to work. This shows that family roles are socially constructed and hence not fixed as our society is always changing. Feminists such as Anne Oakley have criticised Willmott and Young’s finding’s stating that they are methodically flawed. She found that only a small minority of men did a significant amount of housework and childcare.
He points out that early on social ideology made the husband supreme over the woman in the household, his only obligation was to respect her, hers, to serve and obey him1. According to Shorter, the independence of woman led to her disregarding control on her personal freedom. He states that evidence can be found in existing literature hinting that crucial changes in the status of women were under way after 1750, linking the shifts in some way to economic modernization . Shorter suggest that
Initially, functionalists like Parsons (1955), viewed a biological division of labour roles which he said benefited to the family and then the bigger society. Parsons saw the gender roles as expressive and instrumental, meaning that gender roles were unequal so the husband had to perform the instrumental function of being the ‘breadwinner’ by providing financial stability to the family and the wife had to follow the expressive role by socialising the children, looking out for the emotional welfare of the family and filling a housewife role. Parsons says these different roles were ‘natural’ to benefitted whole family. Elizabeth Bott (1957) put these divisions into ‘joint and segregated conjugal roles’, meaning that within the family roles were shared or divided. This 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.
Key Assignment: Family Diversity Ujjol Rahman 1. The term 'neo-conventional' describes the type of nuclear family described by The New Right party and Talcott Parsons with its separation between the male breadwinner and the female housewife/homemaker 2. The difference between expressive and instrumental roles is that; The man/husband of the house has the instrumental role where he is responsible for achieving success at work and gaining income in order to provide for the family financially. The expressive role however is based on the female/wife of the house who's responsible for meeting the families emotional needs and socialization of the children. She is a full time housewife, rather than a source of income.
However, some sociologists disagree with Murdock’s functions of the family and have criticised him. Some argue that these functions could be performed in other institutions equally as well as in the family, or by non-nuclear families. Marxists and Feminists reject his 'rose-tinted' harmonious consensus view that the family meets the needs of both wider society and all members of the family. They argue that functionalism neglects conflict and exploitation: Feminist see the family as serving the needs of men and oppressing women. Marxists argue that it meets the needs of Capitalism and not the needs of family members or society as a whole.
Feminist views of the family revolve around and understanding of the term patriarchy, which means make domination. Feminists agree that men tend to have a superior position in society and that women suffer oppression because of this. Many feminists argue that the family is a corner stone of this oppression and as such needs careful analysis. Liberal feminists believe that the fanily is gradually becoming less oppressive for women, they cite the move of many families towards more symmetrical roles where men take more part in the domestic roles so that women are no longer burdened by the mundane, repetitive, low status work of cleaning, laundry and childcare work which makes their position in society less powerful than mens. However, radical feminists disagree.
Elizabeth Bott conducted a lot of research into conjugal roles and came up with the term ‘joint conjugal role’ which means that the couple share the housework and the childcare. This type of relationship has become much more common since the 1970’s, this suggests that there is more equality between men and women in domestic labour and gender roles. Controversially, Bott discussed segregated conjugal roles, the ‘instrumental role’ played by the man, meaning he provides for the family by going to work whilst the women play the ‘expressive role’ meaning that they cook, clean and look after the
However, feminists believe the functionalist views assumes that all members of the family benefit, whereas feminists argue that policies benefit men at the expense of women. Feminists take a conflict view, they see society as patriarchal. They argue all social institutions including policies help maintain women’s subordinate position and the unequal gender division of labour in the family. They argue social policies are base on assumptions about what the normal family is. Eg if the state
(2013) Feminism Feministic views of the family are split into 3 groups, similar to that of the key perspectives. Liberal feminists believe that both the male and the females have equal roles within the family when it comes to the household chores and childcare. Marxist feminists view the women as the producer of future workers and women’s oppression stems from capitalism and not the family. Radical feminist’s view of the family structure is one of patriarchal and that men are seen as the enemy. This type of family within society is also seen by feminists as the key institution in its contribution to maintaining social control.
The older couple that was observed showed the common construction of a relationship in which the women was the household caretaker and the men took care of the “manly” things. Although there is a division of labor in human affairs between the sexes, there are changing social expectations, which are reflected in somewhat different gender roles at different time (Neuman, M.D, 2013). Through the observation I realized that both men and women no longer have specific “roles” it is now a whoever can get it done should get it done type of attitude. With this new attitude women can now by financially responsible for the family such as the case with the younger couple I observed. Many of the things that the older couple exhibited was frowned upon by the younger couple.