Q10 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)

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Today we have a number of sociological views and approaches, which have agreed changes have taken place in gender roles and relationships within families to make them more equal. However many others sociologist criticise the nature of those changes. Some argue there has been a greater equality within modern family life and others say it is simply exaggerated. In my essay I going to assess these views through domestic labour, paid work, decision making and domestic violence in couples and try to conclude to what extent gender roles and relationships have in reality, become more equal in modern family life.

Functionalists sociologist Talcott Parsons in 1955, had viewed a biological division of labour roles within the family, which benefit family at most from this and most of society as well. Secondary Parsons saw the gender roles as expressive and instrumental, which mean that gender roles were unequal so the husband have to play the instrumental role in the family of being the ‘breadwinner’ by providing financial stability to theirs family and the wife who had to follow the expressive role by looking out for the emotional welfare of the family, socialising the children and being housewife.

Parsons also argued that these different roles were ‘natural’ to benefit whole family. However Elizabeth Bott in 1957 put these divisions into ‘joint and segregated conjugal roles’, meaning that within the family roles were shared or divided, for example those roles could be divided like Parsons says instrumental and expressive role, or they can be shared which mean couples share tasks such as housework, childcare and spending their leisure time together. Segregated conjugal roles idea has been criticised as being too traditional by theorists who suggest that equality within the family has happened and that the ‘norm’ of gender roles is diminishing. Therefore, some sociologists say that in the modern society of today, the old functionalist view seems insignificant as it...
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