Conjugal roles
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Conjugal roles



Conjugal roles, the symmetrical family and its impact on women

Conjugal roles, the symmetrical family and its impact on women



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Conjugal roles Conjugal roles Presentation Transcript

  • The Family
    Conjugal role and the family
  • Conjugal roles
    “No wife of mine is going out to work while I’m getting the money round here!!” Is this any longer true?
  • What are conjugal roles?
    Roles played by men and women within a marriage
    It’s better understood through ‘the domestic division of labour’
    Roles can be joint or separated
  • It’s useful to focus on
    the distribution of housework
    its effects on women’s lives
    the dual-burden
    the triple shift
  • Why are women housewives?
    Oakley (feminist) – due to industrial revolution, women were eventually banned from factories and so were encouraged into the home as carers
    Parsons (functionalist) – women fulfill an expressive role
    Parsons (functionalist) – therefore women were needed at home to look after children
  • Feminists see housework as being….
    Oakley (1974) - housework is seen as being a predominantly female role- ‘non-work, unpaid, isolated and makes women economically dependent on men’
    Delphy & Leonard (1992) - argue all the unpaid housework and childcare is done by women. “Women also make the largest contribution to family life, while men contribute the least but gain the most!”
    Margaret Benston(1972) – “women are an unpaid workforce”- capitalism benefits from a large army of women –who are compliant and willing to do as they’re told because women have been socialised to act this way and women rears future workers to think the same way
  • In contrast Wilmott & Young (1973) argue
    Housework has….
    Moved from segregated to joint
    Moved towards greater equality as spouses share domestic and leisure activities
    Their study in Bethnal Green found 72% of husbands did housework other than washing up
    Therefore they concluded the family is symmetrical
  • This change could have come from..
    Changes in the status of women (through gradual rise of feminist movement)
    More working wives/women
    Gradual move from extended to nuclear families
    Improved rights and status of women
    The importance of the female partner’s earnings to the family
  • However the truth is……
    Oakley (1974) Men think even “ironing their trousers once a week is contributing to housework”
    Backed by British Social Attitudes Survey (1997) show men do very little around the house - 88% of women were solely responsible for washing and ironing compared to 1% of men!
    Office for National Statistics (2001) found women spent three times longer than men doing housework
    The more housework a women does the greater dependence she has on her husband
  • But there are social-class differences?
    Dennis et al – found greater segregated conjugal roles in working-class mining community
    Men out at pub - female housewife at home
    Women seen as inferior as they couldn’t work down the mines but could do housework
    While Elston (1999) found professional wives are still expected to balance their careers with that of dealing with childcare, sick children and housework
    As Oakley says in her ‘Sociology of Housework’ “As long as the blame for an empty fridge or dirty house remains a woman’s then symmetry remains a myth”
  • Burden of housework means…
    Women’s careers can suffer as they have to take main responsibility for housework and childcare – triple-shift, dual-burden
    Consequently women have less pay, poorer promotion prospects and less secure employment
    Have to accept more part-time pay which tends to be poorly paid with less pension rights
    Because of the above employers see women as being less reliable
  • Points to consider…..
    Many of the studies are dated
    Measuring housework is reliant on the researchers/respondents opinions. For example is DIY and gardening housework?
    Are we seeing a new wave of New Men as the media would like use to believe?
    Who makes all the major decisions around the home?