Assess the view that gender roles and relationships have become more equal in the modern family life
The item suggests that ‘a number of changes have taken place in gender roles and relationships within families’ so in today’s society, there are a number of sociological views, which agree that change between equality has taken place in gender roles and between the relationships within the family, making it more equal. Some argue that in modern family life there is much more equality, while others think this is just exaggerated. In this essay I will assess these views through domestic labour, domestic violence in couples and through the childcare debate, to find what extent gender roles and ...view middle of the document...
This view is supported by sociologists such as Young and Willmott, who suggest the family is becoming more symmetrical and fair due to a march of progress. This may be due to social changes were women are more financially dependent as more are getting employed so there is a much less of a need to rely on extended kin. Gershuny also supports this as he suggests that due to women having more employment opportunities, they are likely to do less domestic work. Which is shown by item 2B, suggesting that ‘men were making more of an effort to do housework when their wives were in full time employment’. This means that men are now more responsible for household tasks. Also, due to post-modern society, there are better living conditions compared to those during industrialisation and so this has drawn the men back into the family and which has enabled them to help with housework and childcare.
However, Young and Willmott also found that these changes were most common amongst those who were more affluent – (the middle classes) due to their ability to have geographical and social mobility. Yet their ‘March of progress’ approach suggests that it will not be long before the working-classes see more equality within modern family life which suggests that this view of equality is justified.
This functionalist view of equality in modern family life has been criticised by feminists like Ann Oakley (1974). Oakley rejects the ‘March of progress’ view described by Young and Willmott as she suggests that this is just exaggerated as we still live in a patriarchal society where women do most of the housework Similarly, Mary Boulton also argues that Young and Willmott exaggerated the husband’s contribution. This is supported by social polices like custody laws as due to the social construction of the woman’s role in society, most cases are in favour of women receiving the childcare responsibility which still shows how unequal modern family life is because this expectation still exists-oppressing women.
Feminists Pahl and Vogler (1993) focused on the effects of decision making within the family through ideas like ‘pooling’ and ‘allowance systems. They found it was still evident that men usually made huge financial decisions and that women have less say in these big decisions, therefore it is obvious that the view that gender roles and relationships are becoming more equal is incorrect as inequality in pay and decisions still exist.
This inequality of power has led to domestic violence which clearly shows how inequality is evident in that relationships are being gender dominated. Radical feminists use domestic violence as a way to show that society is primarily founded on patriarchy and that men oppress and exploit women. They suggest that...