Using Material from the Items and Elsewhere, Assess Sociological Explanations for Inequalities Between Husbands and Wives

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Using material from the Items and elsewhere, assess sociological explanations for inequalities between husbands and wives (24 marks)

It is quite evident that there are inequalities between husbands and wives, such as the division of domestic labour. However the inequalities do not only include housework and childcare, but also emotion work, domestic violence and decision making. Some sociologists would argue that the inequalities between husband and wife are beneficial for society.

Firstly, feminists propose that there are inequalities between husband and wives, this is evident through the domestic division of labour. Feminists would blame underlying patriarchy for the inequalities between husband and wives. The domestic division of labour consists of men working and women staying at home to take responsibility of household labour, such as childcare and cleaning. Women take more of a role as the domestic worker, as seen by the survey in Item A, even if they are working full-time. Men have more power because they are the primary breadwinner; Radical feminists would argue that this institution benefits men more than women. They would argue that men sometimes abuse this power, for instance through domestic violence if women do not accept the patriarchal order (Item C). Men earn the money and this takes power away from women, this may be an explanation to why women suffer more domestic violence than men (Mirrlees-Black, 1999). Another example of this would be that only very recently it became illegal for a husband to rape his wife (1991).

Feminists suggest that domestic violence is a problem of patriarchy. In particular, research indicates that men's view that women have failed to be 'good' partners or mothers is often used to justify attacks or threats. These gendered expectations may be particularly reinforced is a woman goes out to work and earns more than her partner. Many boys and men are still brought up in traditional ways to believe that they should...
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