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Using Material From Item And Elsewhere, Assess The View That Gender Roles And Relationships Have Become More Equal In Modern Family Life

1199 words - 5 pages

Using material from item 2B and elsewhere, assess the view that gender roles and relationships have become more equal in modern family life (24 marks)

The domestic division of labour refers to the roles that men and women take in relation to housework. These roles are often referred to as conjugal roles; roles which display roles within marriage itself. Segregated conjugal roles described the situation of man and wife having separate roles within the house where the man would more often be the breadwinner and the woman would be the homemaker. This notion supported Parsons idea of expressive roles, but is the centre of debate for feminist sociologists. There are also joint conjugal roles ...view middle of the document...

They described the modern day society family as a symmetrical family, this describes the notion that roles are not yet identical, but similar. The symmetrical family is where women go out to work, men help with child&house care and couples spend much more leisure time together. The main reasons behind the idea of the symmetrical family spiral from ideas such as: Changes in women’s position, geographical mobility, new technology and higher standards of living. Feminists would criticise this idea and claim that there is still significant inequality within the family and that the family is still a system which oppresses women, because roles are not yet completely equal. As seen in Item 2B, the changes in family relationships and role allocation can be explained simply by the changing attitudes toward the family and the fact that women take greater participation within the labour market; for example these ideas would have been taken from the fact that Thatcher served as longest ever UK prime minister until 1990, where two years later Gershuny found changes in gender roles. He found that men were making more of an effort to do housework when their wives were in full-time work. Gillian Dunne researched lesbian couples, and concluded that these gender scripts do not apply or operate to the same extent. She stated that, compared to hector-sexual women, lesbians were more likely to describe their relationships as equal and share house&child care, give equal importance to both partner’s careers and view child care positive on the whole.
On the other hand many sociologists disagree and believe that gender roles and relationships haven’t become any more equal and continue to oppress one half of marriage, which according to national statistics are most frequently women. These, however, can be criticised because men who are the victims of domestic violence have been found to under report, because of embarrassment issues. This means that official statistics in relation to domestic violence are often invalid because the data is inaccurate, but never the less shows general trends which show women to be on the receiving end of domestic abuse. Parsons argued that there are two different types of conjugal roles and that these roles are explained by biological differences. Expressive roles, usually taken on by women, involve house-work and child care, and instrumental roles which is the job of the male (stereotypically); being a breadwinner. Being a functionalist, he argues that these roles are beneficial to everyone in society and New Right sociologists would also hold this view. However this view has been criticised; Feminists reject this view and claim that labour division only...

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