Asses the view that gender roles and relationships have become more equal in modern family life Essay

Over time the equality in gender roles and relationships has been said to have changed. Some sociologists support this view, whereas some disagree. These theories have developed from factors such as the domestic division of labour and the impact of paid work etc. To start off with, the domestic division of labour refers to the roles that men and women play in relation to housework, paid work and child care. Talcott Parsons (1995) came up with the theory of the two role names, the instrumental and expressive role. The men have the instrumental role; they aim to succeed at work, to ensure they can get money to provide for their family. However the woman has the expressive role; meaning they are expected to take care of child care and handle the emotional needs of their family. Parson argues that the division of labour is based on biological differences, for instance women are said to be naturally suited to the nurturing role. This all makes Parsons view clear that he does not think that the gender roles in the modern family life have improved and become more equal.

On the other hand, Young and Willmott (1973) have a totally different view. They take a ‘march of progress’ view on the history of the family. This is also known as the ‘symmetrical family’. Meaning they believe that they see the family life of today as gradually improving for all its members. Young and Willmott relate to Elizabeth Bott’s theory of the segregated conjugal roles and the joint conjugal roles. They identify a pattern of segregated conjugal roles in their study of the traditional working-class. An example of their view would be; Women now go to work. Although this may be part time rather than full time, men now help with child care and housework. All of this boils down to the outcome of the roles which men and women play. Due to the men helping with child care and housework, this allows women to work to earn a second wage which will then financially help the family and obviously improve the standard of living for all its members.

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