Sociology Releationships And Gender Roles

Sociology Releationships And Gender Roles

Assess the view that gender roles and relationships have become more equal in modern life (24 marks) Today we have a number of sociological views and approaches, which have agreed changes have taken places in gender roles and relationships within the family to make them more equal, whereas some sociologists believe they have not. These beliefs are developed from factors such as the domestic division of labor, the impact of paid work and resources and decision making in households. Young and Wolcott take a ‘Marge of progress’ view of the history of the family.

They see family life as gradually improving for all its members, becoming more equal and democratic. They argue that there has been a long term trend away from segregated conjugal roles and towards joint conjugal roles and the ‘symmetrical family’ where roles of the women and the man are much more similar. Such as, Women now go out to work, although this may be part-time rather than full-time, men now help with housework and childcare, couples now spend their leisure time together rather than with work friends but more home-centered.

In a study of families they conducted in London, they found symmetrical families were more common among younger couples, those who are geographically and socially isolated, and the more affluent. Young and Wolcott saw the rise of the symmetrical family as the result of major social changes that took place in the past century such as changes in women’s position, new technology, geographical mobility and higher standards of living. Many of these factors are inter-linked such as, married women bringing a second wage into the home raises the family standard of living.

This enables the couple to make the home more attractive, ND therefore encourages men to spend more time at home, it also means the couple can afford more labor-saving devices. This makes housework easier and encourages men to do more. All this is slowly increasing relationships and gender roles to become more equal in our society. However, these views were heavily criticized by Ann Oakley who notes that in Young and Hilltop’s research a family was regarded as symmetrical if the husbands did any housework at least once a week. This hardly represented equality within a household.

Her own research found that few men had high bevels of participation in housework and childcare, with only 15% of men contributing significantly to the housework and 30% to the childcare. Although, larger-scale research using survey methods provides more reliable data on the division of labor within the home. The British Social Attitudes Survey has collected data over a number of years and found some shift away from traditional roles in the 1 9805 and early 1 9905. However, in more recent years there has been little change. In 1994 women always or usually did the laundry in 81% of households. By 2006 this had fallen just 4% to 77%.

In the traditional nuclear family, the roles of husbands and wives are segregated where there roles are separate and distinct. In Tailcoat Parsons functionalist model of the family, for example, there is a clear division of labor between spouses. The husband has an instrumental role, geared towards achieving success at work so that he can provide for the family financially known as the breadwinner. The wife has an expressive role, geared towards primary solicitation of the children and meeting the family emotional needs. She is the homemaker, a full-time housewife rather than a wage earner.

Parsons argues that this division of labor 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 labor is beneficial to both men and women, to their children and to wider society, and the New Right also hold this view. Nonetheless, other sociologists have criticized Parsons such as Michael Young and Peter Wolcott who argue that men are now taking a greater share of domestic tasks and more wives are becoming wage earners. Feminist sociologists reject this ‘march of progress’ view.

They argue that little as changed: men are women remain unequal within the family and women still do most of the housework. They see the inequality as stemming from the fact that the family and society are male-dominated or patriarchal. Women occupy a subordinate and dependent role within the family and in wider society. Husbands were more likely to share in childcare than in housework, but only in its more pleasurable aspects. Most couples defined the father’s role as one of ‘taking an interest. A good father was one who would play with the children I the evenings and take them off her hands’ on Sunday morning.

However, this could mean that mothers lose the rewards of childcare, such as playing with the children but are only left to do housework. Clatter research supports feminist Ann Galley’s findings. Mary Bolton found that fewer than Of husbands had a major role in childcare. She argues also that Young and Wolcott exaggerate men’s contribution by looking at the tasks involved in childcare rather than the responsibilities. A father might help with specific tasks, but it was almost always the mother who was responsible for the child’s security and well-being.

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