The Arguments For and Against the Idea that There Is a Move Toward a More Equal Division of Labour Within the Home
In today’s modern society there is a debate on going about whether or
not that there is a move towards a more equal division of labour
within the home and family.
Sociologists are interested in many different aspects of family life.
Firstly, are husbands and wives today equal? In the past, men
dominated both the family and society at large. However, in recent
years, there have been important moves towards equality, such as laws
against sex discrimination and many more women going out to work.
There is also the interest in how far there have been similar changes
in the family. For example, do men do their fair share of the
housework and childcare and do both spouses have an equal say in
decision making? This is what I am going to evaluate.
To begin with, the domestic division of labour refers to the roles
that men and women play in relation to housework, childcare and paid
work. The idea of a move towards a more equal division of labour
simply means that both males and females do equal amounts of
housework, childcare and paid work (joint conjugal roles).
Parsons, a functionalist, would argue that there should not be an
equal division of labour within the home. He believes that the roles
should be segregated and that women should play the expressive role
and males the breadwinning role in order for society not to decay. He
argues that the division of labour is based on biological differences,
with women being “naturally” suited to the nurturing role and men to
that of provider. Many New Right conservative thinkers also hold this
view. However, other sociologists has criticised Parsons.
Firstly I am going to look at the evidence for family life is moving
towards, gradually, becoming more equal.
Wilmott and Young support this idea by arguing that the family is
gradually improving for all its members, becoming more equal and
democratic. They argue that there has been a long term trend away
from segregated conjugal roles and the “symmetrical family”.
By the term ‘symmetrical family’ they mean one in which the roles of
husbands and wives, although not completely identical, are now much
They argue that that this is because women now go out to work,
although this may be part-time rather full-time, men now help with
housework and childcare and couples now spend their leisure time
together instead of separately with workmates or female relatives.
In their studies to support this view, they found that the symmetrical
family was more common amongst younger couples, those who were
geographically and socially isolated. For example, the young couples
who moved away and were living at a distance from extended family and
work mates were most...