Assess the contribution of feminist sociologists to an understanding of family roles and relationships Essay

In this essay I will be talking about how feminist have contributed to our understanding of family roles and relationships. There are several different types of feminist theory, but all of them share certain characteristics in common; there is a fundamental division in society between men and women, that women are to some extent exploited by men and that society is male dominant or patriarchal this means “rule by the father” but is used by feminist to indicate that men have more power than women and the interest of men largely shapes how society is run.

They believe that these theories are also critical of existing sociology arguing that it has a pro male bias. They call male-dominated sociology malestream sociology calming that most sociology is written by men, about men and for men as most early studies used all male samples and paid little attention to women’s roles and work within the family such as the role of the mother and the work of mothering and housework.

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Women now have become more influential in sociology and this was reflected in a growing number of studies of the family from a feminist point of view. However there are important differences between different feminist views. Feminist believe that there is a clear difference between men and woman.

There are three types of Feminism one of the three is Marxism they look at class and believe that society is controlled by men and Capitalists (the wealthy ruling class) and also think that the cause of women’s oppression isn’t men but is capitalism they think that women’s oppression produces many functions for capitalism to work these are there that women do unpaid work at home for example cleaning or as cooking (domestic labour) and receive lower income making them financially dependent on the man also they bring up and socialise the children while the men are out working socialising means teacher the children the norms and values from a young age. Women also prepare men for work as they absorb all the stress and anger of men, cook for them and also gratify their husbands sexually; this benefits capitalism as men are fit and healthy for work. Ansley used the term of “shit takers” as the men arrive at home and talk or sometimes shout at their wife in order to release the stress from there days’ work while the woman has to take it and does not work visa versa; men sees this as there wife’s job.

Lastly women can be reserved army of cheap labour at times of national crisis for example in the second world war when women went into factories and work in place of men, women are a reliable source to accept a job when is needed and are venerable enough to be asked to leave when they are not needed anymore this shows that women are just called to work when needed in extreme cases like the war. Marxist define society as Patriarchal, Solutions to Marxism are communist revolution or more economic equality to get rid of men’s financial power. The criticism of Marxism is that places too much emphasis on economic factors. Another type of Feminist are radical feminist they also thing that society is controlled my men and that men are the only ones who benefit from the inequalities in societies. The believe that women are dominated by men due to biology and that women gave birth to them and they are more aggressive, stronger and violent and us this or Ideology (distorted beliefs) to control women. Radical Feminist believe that it has been built into the way society is structured that men are allowed to exploit and oppress women. They call this patriarchy they believe that abuse

In the family is down to men being psychologically warped by centuries of patriarchy into being unable to accept women as equals. Delphy and Leonard argue that there are two roles within the family. One role is the head of the household and this is usually taken by the male. The other role is that of a dependent this role is usually taken by the wife who is at least semi-subordinate and owes her husband obedience and respect. The wife is responsible for domestic, sexual and emotional labour. Radical feminist solution to the exploitation of women is a Radical change for example female dominated society or separation of sexes. The third type of feminism is Liberal feminism the believe society is controlled by men who have more power than women, but women do have some power, they define society as democratic but it is also sexist with discrimination against women. Liberal feminist ideas are socialization into gender roles for example differences between boys and girls and sexist discrimination E.g. in the labour market restricts women’s opportunities. Liberal feminist have pointed to the family as the key source of male domination and female oppression.

They point to the fact that in the past, fathers had the right to rule other family members this right is enshrined in custom, tradition and even in law like 2the ruled of thumb”, which in the past gave a husband the right to hit his wife with an impediment, such as a stick as long as it was no wider than his thumb. Just as women tend to be subservient in the workplace, so they tend to be subservient in the home. Garvon points to the fact that women are over represented in jobs which revolve around cooking.

Cleaning and caring and that women in paid work are still likely to have a male boss, Liberal feminist believe that patriarchy is not physical force, but a force of institutional control. Liberal feminism thing that solutions to the exploitation of women can be resolved by gradual reform getting rid of sexism in socialisation ( e.g. Children’s books ) and the use of language laws against discrimination (E.G Equal pay act ) These three feminist perspectives outlines all tent to see women as a single group who shares interest and are all equally exploited. However Difference feminism emphasizes that woman are not one single united group but rather has a variety of interest Black feminist for example, stress the importance of radical/ethnic differences between women while other difference feminist emphasize differences in class are or nationality. Difference feminist point out that not all women are equally exploited

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