Family Roles and Relationships: Examining the Contribution of Feminist Sociologists

Topics: Feminism, Family, Sociology Pages: 5 (1733 words) Published: February 2, 2014
Using material from Item 2B and elsewhere assess the contribution of feminist sociologists to an understanding of family roles and relationships.

In this essay I will be assessing the contribution of feminist sociologists to an understanding of family roles and relationships. There are different roles in families such as: Conjugal; where both the partners share task such as housework and childcare, the opposite of this would be segregated roles; where the couples have separate roles, the male is breadwinner and has the instrumental role and the female is the housewife and has the expressive role. A dual earner is a couple…. A single parent is a person who has been divorced or been widowed and has to take care of the children they had with the previous partner. Furthermore there are different types of relationships between families such as equal; where the husband and wife both have an equal say and are treated equally, however it can be one-sided; where the husband or wife are more dominant which can lead to domestic violence, it could also be democratic; where the family all vote for something instead of one person taking the decisions, but it can also be patriarchal; where the male take the main decisions and Is the breadwinner. A feminist is a person that argues that sociology has traditionally taken a ‘male stream’ perspective and ignores female viewpoint; they examine women’s experiences and study society from a female’s perspective. There are different types of feminism: Liberal, Marxists, Radical and Difference Feminism. They all tend to be critical of the nature of a women’s role and relationship inside families because they see them as grossly patriarchal, oppressive and unfair, as mentioned in Item B. On the other hand, the different types of feminist don’t agree with each other’s perspective on ideas of families and households, and they tend to clash.

Liberal feminists are concerned with the campaigning against sex discrimination and for equal rights and opportunities for women. However they argue that women’s oppression is being gradually overcome through changing people’s attitude and through changes of laws such as the sex discrimination act, which outlaws sex discrimination in employment. They believe that we are moving towards greater equality. In terms of family, they hold the view of ‘march of progress’ like Young & Willmott, however they believe that gender equality hasn’t fully been achieved in the family, but there has been some progress; some of their research shows that men have been doing more domestic labour. However other feminists criticize liberal feminists for failing to challenge the underlying causes of women’s oppression and for believing there has been change in the attitude to bring greater equality. Another Feminists type is Marxist feminists; they argue that the main reason for women’s oppression is not men, but capitalism. They argue that women reproduce labour force through their unpaid domestic labour by socialising the next generation of workers while maintaining the current ones, as mentioned in Item B; they also believe that women absorb anger, which Fran Ansley (1972) described wives as “takers of shit” who soak up frustration their husbands feel because of their work. They believe this is the main cause of domestic violence. They also argue that women are used as a ‘reserve army’ of cheap labour, so that when employers don’t need their service anymore they can simply let go of them and they can return to their role of unpaid domestic labour; they argue that the family must be abolished.Radical feminists believe that all societies have been founded by patriarchy and ruled by men. They believe that the key is to create a separation between men and women. They argue that men are the ‘enemy’ and they are the source to women exploitation. Also, that the family and marriage are the key institutions in patriarchal society. Men benefit from women’s unpaid domestic labour and from...
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