Using Material from Item 2b and Elsewhere, Assess the Contribution of Feminist Sociologists to an Understanding of Family Roles and Relationships (24 Marks)

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Using material from Item 2B and elsewhere, assess the contribution of feminist sociologists to an understanding of family roles and relationships (24 marks) Feminists have helped change the tradition view of the family. There are two types of feminists; liberal and radical. As shown in the item they take a ‘critical view’ of the family arguing that it is patriarchal and focus on the ‘gender inequalities’ in housework and violence against women. They believe gender inequality is created by society and is not natural. Functionalist Murdock suggested as children we are socialised into societies shared norms and values and he believed that males provide the economic roles and females provided the expressive role. Therefore it is natural for women to play the expressive role in the household looking after the family’s emotional needs. However, radical feminist Ann Oakley argues that the role of the housewife is a social construction and isn’t linked to the female role. The housewife role makes sure that women stay inferior to men making it difficult for them have careers. Women carry out the triple burden in the household; the domestic labour, emotional labour, and paid labour. As shown in the item most of this work is ‘unpaid and hardly recognised work at all’. Oakley argues the only way women will gain independence and freedom in society is for the role of the housewife to be removed aswell as the present structure of the family. Wilmott and Young believed the family is symmetrical and that both husband and wife have joint conjugal roles making the family a functional institution and their research showed that men do help women with housework. Radical feminists such as Dobash and Dobash also disagree with Willmott and Young’s theory that the family is symmetrical. They believe there are inequalities in the power relations between men and women so they see family
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