Some sociologists say that men benefit highly from family life seeing as women typically take responsibility for the majority of the childcare and domestic labour. On the other hand certain views support the idea of a symmetrical family and insist that family duties are divided equally. Throughout this essay I am going to explore different views and come to a judgement on whether men benefit more from the family unit than women do. New right sociologists believe that the family works better if men and women take on specific roles, the man having an instrumental role, to earn money and act as the breadwinner for his family, whereas the woman has an expressive role which focuses on meeting the family’s emotional needs, acting as the homemaker, a full-time housewife. Parsons developed these ideas in 1955 and he believes it is beneficial to have this split of roles as each job is done better by the gender most suited to it, for example, women are said to be more suitable to deal with the families emotional needs.
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.
However decisisons such as child care would be done by the wife or a joint decision. This could be down to the face that men predominantly earn more money than woman, so they get the choice, in this situation the man would play the instrumental role. This suggests that equality is at a minimum. On the other hand a study done in 1993 by Silver & Schor found that it is a lot easier in this generation to make food and clean up etc, due to the technology available, which reduces time taken to do the certain task which would give women more time around the house. So in this time they could go elsewhere and get a job to earn some extra money.
Both say that the family is becoming a symmetrical family. A symmetrical family is where both partners do housework, both partners look after the children; both partners have paid work and spend quality time together. This means that there is an increase in men and women starting to share the household tasks. On the other hand Feminists believe that men get an “easy life”. Feminists believe that society is patriarchal; this means that men dominate the society.
They see the rise in the symmetrical family as a result of major social changes in the past century; changes in women position, including married women going out to work, geographical mobility, more couples living away from the communities in which they grew up. Additionally, Gershuny found that wives who worked full time did less domestic work and that the longer the wife had been in pain work, the more housework her husband was likely to do. However, the most important thing is that the roles of the husband and wife, although not identical, are more similar now then they
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. Therefore, some say that in the modern society of today, the old functionalist view seems insignificant as it does not represent modern family life. The item says that ‘changing attitudes to gender roles and increased participation by women
Delphy and Leonard (1992) argued that the inequalities between partners in the home are a result of the fact that the head of the household is almost always male. This implies that men have more decision-making power, and are able to consume more of what the family earns, even if they are unemployed and it is the woman who is earning the money. They state that women, on the other hand, are expected to carry out domestic work without being paid. Marxist Feminists believe that the woman are a ‘reserve army’ of cheap labour in the family and they think that the family should be abolished along with the capitalist society that we live in.
Norms are social rules, standards or expectations that govern the behaviour expected in particular situation for example wearing clothing in public, Values are drive norms, they are general behaviour guides and beliefs about how something should be. Cohabitation in the UK used to be viewed as ‘living in sin’, a stigma which has declined, this has led to an increase in cohabitation because couples can now live together without it being frowned upon. Cohabitation is increasingly becoming a long term alternative to marriage, Chester in 1993 suggested that this can be reflected in the increasing proportions of children born out of marriage, this has also helped to increase cohabitation because partners no longer feel as much pressure to marry to legitimize a pregnancy. Another reason for the increase in cohabitation in contemporary UK is due to legal and social policy changes. In 1969, the Divorce Reform Act which made divorce a lot easier to get and was responsible for a large rise in divorce in addition in 1984 the law allowed couples to petition for divorce just after one year of marriage, these laws encouraged cohabitation because it gave partners a chance to trial what it would be like living together like a married
Though few people are not happy with these changes due to their old thoughts, but, the number of working mothers is increasing drastically compared to previous years (Rampell). Women’s rise as breadwinner provides more financial strength and stability to the family. On the other hand, few people still believe that it is better for men to focus on breadwinning and women on homemaking. “Women are the primary breadwinners in nearly 40% of families with children under the age of 18, according to the recently released report from the Pew Research Center” (Claire). The women’s trend being a primary breadwinner is increasing because the larger number of women are earning higher degrees and entering the workforce (Claire).
Gender bias in the workplace Natalie Brown Bryant & Stratton College SOSC 102: Principles of Sociology Annetta Gad July 15, 2012 Abstract Women are represented as being underneath men in an organizational hierarchy. They do not earn as much money as their male counterparts, even though they may work as hard. Gender bias does exist in the workplace. It is the main cause for women not being able to break that invisible barrier, which keeps them from reaching senior levels. A woman can have the same degree as a man but will not be offered the same job as him, simply because of her sex.