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Sociology Essay

1257 words - 6 pages

During the industrial revolution men became increasingly identified with the public world of production and wage labour. While women were confined to the private sphere of consumption and the home. This is where conjugal roles come in; these are roles played by the husband or boyfriend and wife or girlfriend in a married or cohobating couple. The item suggests that some sociologists see the family as a march of progress where as others see it as unequal and patriarchal.
Functionalists, like Talcott Parsons, saw the division of labour as biological and he claimed that they were beneficial to the family and wider society. Elizabeth Bott named the divisions through ‘joint and segregated ...view middle of the document...

This suggests that the gender roles and relationships are becoming more equal. They see the family life today as gradually improving for all its members and becoming more democratic. They also suggest that there has been a long-term trend moving away from the segregated conjugal roles and a shift towards the joint conjugal roles. They say the reason for this increase is due to more women are in paid work, so they are less dependent on their extended kin and husbands for financial support. This also supports the reason for the decline in marriage and increase in divorce; since the 1920’s marriage has been at its lowest. Jonathan Gershuny agrees with Willmott and Young and says that wives who work full-time have less time to do housework. This is supported by his statistic, 83% when not working and 73% when full-time. He explains that this is a cultural lag and that we are slowly adapting towards women working full time. This is also backed up by the item which states ‘men are more willing to do housework than they were in the past’. By the change of position for women, it has meant that men are now more responsible for different household tasks therefore suggesting that the gender roles in the modern family are becoming more equal.
On the other hand, feminist, such as Ann Oakley, have criticised the functionalist and March of progress view and describes the family as patriarchal (male dominated). Oakley rejects the March of progress view as she states that it over exaggerates the amount of work men actually do in the house. Oakley says that gender roles are still unequal in the modern family because although men are ‘helping’, it is still the women’s primary role. However, this can be seen as that women do not let men do certain tasks, such as washing, because they may mess up the jobs and it is easier for the wives to do them. Moreover, in her study she found that only 15% of men, in families today, participate in domestic labour, which clearly shows that gender roles and relationships are still unequal. Similarly, Mary Boulton backs up Oakley’s study as she found that fewer than 20% of husbands help with childcare, again showing a lack of equality. Feminists express the view that the joint conjugal roles, which functionalist suggested, are not joint but impaired women, they believe that equality does not exist amongst gender roles and relationships.
Furthermore, the item suggests the feminist view that ‘there are major inequalities of power and control in modern family relationships’. Barrett and McIntosh suggest that men gain far more from women’s domestic work than they give back in financial support; which often comes with ‘strings attached’. Money management amongst family often favours men; research shows that resources are not shared and women’s needs...

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