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Sociology: Have Contemporary Families Become Partnerships of Equals?

In: Social Issues

Submitted By hdb1806
Words 1020
Pages 5
“In contemporary Britain, families are often thought to more ‘symmetrical’, whereby the relationship between married and cohabiting couples has become less patriarchal, or male-dominated, and much more an equally balanced partnership. Both partners share household chores, childcare and decision-making, and both partners are more likely to be involved in paid employment.”

Applying material from Item B, and your knowledge, evaluate the view that contemporary families have become partnerships of equals. (20 marks)

There are many evaluation points to the view that contemporary families have become partnerships of equals. I am going to focus on the four main points of the domestic division of labour, gender inequalities, power and the ‘dark side’ of family life.

The sociologists Young & Wilmott (1973) support that contemporary families have become partnerships of equals. This is because they believe that the family is a ‘symmetrical family’, where the family have joint conjugal roles. Consequently, domestic labour is divided equally between the husband and the wife of the family. Additionally, Kan et al (2009) agree with Young & Wilmott (1973) as he found that the time spent on housework by men in the 1960s was 90 minutes per day, whilst in 2004, men spent 148 minutes per day on housework. However, both the sociologists Oakley (1974) and Craig (2007) challenge that contemporary families have become partnerships of equals. Oakley (1974) believes that there is patriarchy in the family, where the men see the housework as ‘her work’ so the family isn’t symmetrical. He believed that the women have an expressive role as a housewife and the men have an instrumental role as the breadwinner of the family. Further inequality is shown by Craig (2007) who found that women do a third to a half more housework than men. This begins when the couple move in together – the...

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