Using Material from Item 2b and Elsewhere, Asses the View That Gender Roles and Relationships Have Become More Equal in Modern Family Life

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Using material from item 2b and elsewhere, asses the view that gender roles and relationships have become more equal in modern family life. A number of sociological views and approaches agree that changes have taken place in gender roles and relationships within families to make them more equal and many criticise the nature of these changes. Some argue there has been a greater equality within modern family life and others say it is simply exaggerated. My essay will assess these views through domestic labour, paid work, decision making and domestic violence in couples and try to conclude to what extent gender roles and relationships have in reality, become more equal in modern family life. 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. 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
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