Examine the Factors Affecting the Domestic Division of Labour and Power Relations Between Couples (24 Marks)

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The domestic division of labour refers to the roles that men and women play in relation to housework, childcare and paid work; and in addition looks at the different powers both have within the household and the relationship. This essay will also focus on the factors which affect these divisions. Firstly, whether a family live in a symmetrical family or not will have an effect on the divisions of labour. March of Progress theorists such as Young and Willmott argue that family life is gradually improving for all its members, becoming more equal and democratic. For example, women now go out to work, just as men now help with housework and childcare. However Feminists reject the ‘March of Progress’ theory, and argue that women remain unequal within the family. Anne Oakley argues that we still live in a patriarchal (male dominated) society, and therefore women occupy a subordinate and dependant role within the family and wider society. In addition in Mary Boulton’s research backed this, she found that fewer than 20% of husbands had a majority role in childcare. Overall it could therefore be argued that rather than partners becoming more equal, women now have to carry a ‘dual burden’, whereby she is responsible for two jobs of unpaid or paid labour. Factors such as patriarchy and conforming to a gender script will lead to these divisions. Secondly, it could be argued that the money management within a family has an effect on the power relations between couples. Edgell argues that the reason why men are likely to take the decisions is because they earn more; women usually earn less than their husbands, and as a result of being dependant on them, have less say in the decision making. Similarly, Michelle Barrett and Mary McIntosh additionally argue that men usually make the decisions about spending on important items. Therefore it can be inferred that as a

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