Examine the factors affecting power relations and the division of labour between couples.
Domestic labour consists of housework, childcare and paid work. In 1955, Parsons suggested that the husband and wife have different roles within the family; the man had the instrumental ‘bread winning’ role. He is expected to achieve success at work and financially support the family whereas the wife was expected to look after the house, raise the children emotionally and cook. He named this the expressive role. Parsons said that these roles made things ‘nice and functional’. He also said that men and women were biologically suited to these roles so it was only natural for men to be the breadwinners and women are the stay at home wives. This is a very traditional view.
However, the ...view middle of the document...
This family type is becoming so popular because women’s position in society has changed significantly over the recent years, it’s now normal for women to have a career instead of being a housewife. Also the burden of housework has decreased due to commercialisation of housework, the housewife role is disappearing and it’s now easier and quicker to keep a home clean by devices such as hovers and washing machines.
In contrast, Warde and Hetherington (1993) said that certain jobs were ‘sex typed’. This means that men and women are expected to do different jobs around the home. For example, women are expected to cook, clean and look after the children whereas men are expected to do DIY and clean the car. Ferri and Smith (1996) asked 1,500 working families about childcare and found only 4% of husbands took responsibility for childcare. This proves that most women carry a triple shift; being a mother, housewife and also working. As well as this, Hochschild (1983) found that women were expected to deal with a child’s emotions while growing up and keeping a good relationship with their husband, this is called “emotion work”. Oakley (1974) claimed that there is a rise of the housewife, and said that women are paid less so it allows the husband to remain the breadwinner, therefore it makes more sense for the husband to go out and work which leads women down to the route of “housewife”. Elston proved that domestic roles are not becoming more equal when he did a survey of over 400 couples in which both partners were doctors. He found that 80% of female doctors reported that they took time off work to look after their sick children compared with only 2% of male doctors. She concluded that only a minority of professional couples in her study shared housework and childcare.