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Assess the View That Roles and Relationships Between Couples Is Becoming More Equal

  • Date Submitted: 11/16/2011 02:19 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 45.8 
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Different sociologists have had different views to whether conjugal roles have become equal. Researchers have measured different aspects of equality/inequality in conjugal roles. Some have concentrated on the housework in the home: they have examined the allocation of responsibility for domestic work between husband and wife and the amount of time spent by spouses on particular tasks. Others have tried to measure the distribution of power within marriage.  Young and Willmott, and Elizabeth Botts are amongst those who have argued that conjugal roles are equal. However sociologist/feminist Ann Oakley who has carried out research into the area of conjugal roles, have found little evidence that couples share equal roles, Ann Oakley famously states “the new man doesn’t exist”.

Willmott and Young agree with the statement that conjugal roles have become equal. During the 1970’s they announced the arrival of the symmetrical family, a family in which the roles of husband and wife were similar. In the home the couple ‘shared their work and shared their time’. Husbands were seen to be increasingly helping with domestic chores, child caring and decision making about family life. Willmott and Young found that 72% of husbands helped with these household tasks. They argued that the change from segregated to joint conjugal roles results mainly from the wife partaking in paid work, and this makes it compulsory for husbands to participate in housework.
Ann Oakley is one sociologist who criticises this view of Willmott and Young who had claimed that 72% of husbands ‘help in the house’. In 1974 Ann Oakley pointed out that included in this figure were husbands who did very little, only had to perform one household chore a week. During the 1970’s she collected information on 40 married women who had one child or more under the age of 5 and were themselves aged between 20 and 30. Half of her sample was working class and half was middle class. She found greater equality for domestic...

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