My aim is to find out whether or not conjugal roles are distributed evenly between the sexes in middle class families. I am interested in researching this matter as I am from a middle class background and am surrounded by other middle class families and also the fact that I am forced to participate in housework myself in ms household. Sociologists such as Mary Boulton believe that is mainly the women who apply themselves in households as in her research she found that only eighteen percent of fathers help in extensive childcare and thirty six percent of fathers helped moderately.
Ann Oakley criticises other sociologist’s research as she does her own. I have chosen her study because she also was trying to find the truth about conjugal roles as she felt the other sociologists hadn’t given accurate accounts. She says that although the figure of 72% of men doing housework is impressive she points out that this figure is based on one research question “do you/your husband help at least once a week with house hold jobs such as washing up, making beds, ironing, cooking or cleaning?
” She also notes that men who make a very small contribution to the housework would also be included in this figure.
She as a feminist believes that the nuclear family exploits women as a cheap army of labourers and that even when women are in an employed area of work they are paid poorly and less than men. Ann Oakley then did her own research and found men in middle class families did more work in the house but even so she found that in only 15% of marriages did men do a high level of house work and in childcare only 30%.
Oakley also argues that now women are more independent they now have a dual burden in working in the house and in paid employment. She has accepted that with time men are doing more in the home but still domestic conjugal roles are still not equal and women are still being exploited. Sociologists such a Gershuny argue that this is leading to inequality between husbands and wives and that the working hours of an employed husband and a housewife are relatively the same, other sociologists such as Willmott and young also share this view.
Gershuny also found that between 1974 and 1987 the proportion of men doing domestic work had increased in relation to the increase of women in employed work and that husbands with wives in fulltime employment had doubled the amount of domestic work they did at home. The reason why I have chosen to look at these studies is because they relate to the study I’m going to be doing which is to find if domestic labourer is shared equally between family members in middle class families.
My first concept is gender this means the sexual identity of a male or female according to anatomy. Sociologists such as Elizabeth Bott distinguish conjugal roles into segregated and joint. In the segregated case there is a clear differentiation between the roles of each sex. In the joint case many tasks are carried out together with little differentiation between the tasks.
Bott noted that there was a basic division of labour in most families with the male predominantly responsible for supporting the family financially and that the female was predominantly preoccupied with house work and child care. Bott did these studies in the 1950’s so they could be out of date and mite not refer to families today. My second concept will be conjugal roles, which means the role and relationship between married couples.
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