1. Assess the view that gender roles and relationships have become more equal in modern family life. (24 marks)
Some sociologists support the view that gender roles and relationships have become more equal in modern family where as some sociologists believe that they have not. These beliefs are developed from factors such as the domestic division of labour, the impact of paid work and resources and decision making in households. Firstly, the domestic division of labour refers to the roles that men and women play in relation to housework, child care and paid work. Talcott Parsons came up with two roles names instrumental and expressive roles. Parson said that men have an instrumental role which is geared towards achieving success at work which enables them to provide for their family financially and that women have an expressive role which is geared towards primary socialisation of the children and meeting the family’s emotional needs. Parson states that the division of labour is based on biological facts, for instance women are more naturally suited to the nurturing role. Therefore Parsons view does not believe the fact that gender roles have led to more equality in family life because he states that husband and wife have different responsibilities in order to help their families. On the other hand, Young and Wilmott (1973) take a ‘march of progress’ view on the history of the family. This is also known as the symmetrical family and they see family life as 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 towards joint conjugal roles and the ‘symmetrical family’. By symmetrical family, they mean that the gender roles and relationships have become more equal and similar, although they are not identical. They believe this because, women now go out to work, although this may be part-time rather than full-time, Men now help with housework and...
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