Critically examine Essay
The four items from the book all say that women have the majority of the expectation to do more of the domestic tasks. These tasks include such things like caring for the children emotionally, washing clothes and making sure the house is tidy etc. The man is seen to be the main breadwinner and has little to do with such domestic tasks. There are views that say, however, that men are getting more actively involved, for example item D from M. Denscombe says that “The amount of time fathers’ spend with their children has increased fourfold over a generation between 1961 and 1995.
” But it is very hard to do research within a family unit unless you are in the unit already and can research from within. Item B from M. Jones suggests that the domestic division of labour is not in proportion to the division of employed work, even though there is evidence to suggest that this is sometimes the case, “generally studies indicate that inequality rather than symmetry is the defining characteristic of the majority of present day marriages. ” There are many different sociologists that believe that the division of labour in the home is getting more equal in the present day.
Item A involved a huge survey of 543 parents and found that working mothers spend more time on housework than on their full time job. It says that mothers in full time employment spend 56 hours on housework compared to men’s 31 hours a week. This shows that even when the mother is working there is still the expectation for her to be the main carer and house worker; this sort of division of labour, which is expected, is called the “dual burden”. Item C is from M.
Leonard and suggests that women accept the role of the housewife because they want to be seen as a good wife and mother. For this reason they are more likely to accept an unequal division of labour. Willmott and Young (1973) introduced the idea of symmetry, which basically meant that the roles of the husband and wife were equal and balanced. They still agreed that women would take the main responsibility for the childcare and domestic tasks, but said that men were spending about the same amount of time as the women in the home doing home-related activities.
The idea of symmetry meant that the domestic tasks would be shared equally, but this would not be strictly true as men were still seen to do the practical jobs such as “do it yourself” tasks or decorating, while the women would wash up. This meant that they did about the same amount of time on domestic tasks, but they were not shared completely equally. This “symmetrical” division of labour made the relationship more “home-centred” and they would spend more of the leisure time together, providing a stronger relationship.
Willmott and Young would agree that the domestic tasks have become more equal between the husband and wife. This sort of marriage is called the egalitarian marriage where the tasks are more joint. Burghes would agree with Willmott and Young who say that fathers are more active in childcare these days than they were in the 1960’s. Benston, a Marxist-feminist argues that women are used as reserve army of labour and that the work that they do and the way they work benefits the capitalist system because they are easily employable and can be let off work easier than men.
The capitalist system promotes the traditional nuclear family where the man is the breadwinner and the wife is the carer and looks after the house this is because of the capitalist system that treats women as slaves, “women are the slaves of wage slaves” Rosser and Harris agree with Wilmot and Young’s theory and say that nowadays the husband is expected to help with the household chores, to stay at home or go out for the evening with his wife, to help with the children, to push the pram, to share the major family decisions.
The case studies of young married couples confirmed this marked change in the conjugal relationship and the marked contrast within the recent past. This is a big change from years past as the husband is getting more involved with the children and helping out more within the home. Elizabeth Bott argues that the conjugal roles in the home are both segregated and joint. This means that the jobs round the house are shared in terms of time doing them, but they are segregated because the wife would do different tasks to the man.
The man would do such jobs like looking after the car and getting things fixed around the house, while the woman would do jobs which are associated with the mother figure, these are such tasks as making sure there is a dinner on the table and looking after the children while they are playing. Bott also argues that the norms and beliefs of the middle class would eventually filter down into the working class. At the moment the middle class has a different system when it comes to domestic division of labour, they tend to have the joint domestic task system, where as the working class have a segregated division of labour.
By saying that this will filter down means that eventually the working class will change their division of labour so that the tasks between the husband and wife are joint. In conclusion I think that the roles within the family are being a lot more shared, so are becoming more symmetrical. The husband and wife are beginning to share their domestic tasks and this will bring them closer to each other, this point agrees with that of Willmott and Young when they say that more of the leisure time that they have will be spent together in the home.
I also agree with the view from Beck who says that fathers need an identity, which in this modern world is not provided by their work anymore so they look to other places to provide it. More and more fathers are taking an active role in the development of their children, which provides them with the identity, which they need. The involvement should not be exaggerated though because compared to the mother they still don’t play a huge role in the care of the children. This view agrees with Item D, which is the Item that I agree with most as it describes the change of involvement of fathers with their children form the 1960’s to the 1990’s.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 13 September 2017
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