Presentation on theme: "The domestic division of labour debate See accompanying notes throughout this PowerPoint FOTOLIA."— Presentation transcript:
The domestic division of labour debate See accompanying notes throughout this PowerPoint FOTOLIA
The domestic division of labour debate How do couples divide up household tasks? Sociologists have put forward a number of different reasons to help explain this. Social class, age, religion and ethnicity may all be factors. Feminists, especially, have tended to focus more strongly on the importance of gender inequalities. However, these characteristics are not mutually exclusive — people belong in each of these groups at the same time. It may be that combined effects — e.g. of class and gender — are most significant.
The domestic division of labour debate ‘Traditional’ approaches Traditionally, functionalist sociologists have argued that the family works positively, both for society and for its individual members. For Parsons, wives and husbands complemented each other because their ‘natural’ gender differences were reflected in their different roles in marriage — the ‘rational’ male breadwinner and the more‘emotional’ and caring domestic role of the female. As the extended family declined in its importance, Willmott and Young argued that husbands and wives were adapting to the more ‘private’ nuclear family, and were slowly beginning to share more household tasks. The ‘symmetrical family’ was beginning to emerge.
The domestic division of labour debate Marxist views From the late 1960s/early 1970s, more radical views began to emerge in the family and domestic division of labour debate. Marxists recalled the work of Marx and Engels, which identified the family as a site for female exploitation and home-based women as unpaid labourers for capitalists. Althusser saw the family as part of the ideological state apparatus — a unit for consumption, where false needs (e.g. for new household goods for women) were created to support capitalism.
The domestic division of labour debate Feminist views There is often an overlap between Marxist and feminist views on labour tasks in the family, though feminists focus more directly on gender rather than class inequality. Feminists challenged the ‘natural’ sex distinctions identified by functionalists. Oakley found that most unpaid women ‘homemakers’ actually experienced housework as dull, unfulfilling and monotonous, with little status or job satisfaction. If women do opt for a paid career they often end up in a ‘dual role’— with responsibility at work, as well as for key tasks at home.
The domestic division of labour debate Recent challenges — ‘post-feminism’? More recently, challenges to the feminist position have come from the work of sociologist Katherine Hakim. She argues that ‘political correctness’ has impeded scholarly research on the extent of real sex differences in abilities, social attitudes, values, life goals and behaviour. Hakim contends that there is solid evidence that men and women do differ, on average, in their work and home orientations — and that many women prefer unpaid domestic tasks to paid work tasks.
The domestic division of labour debate A changing world? All theorists agree that the world has been changing for both men and women over the past 50 years — and that these changes have had some impact on dividing up domestic labour. What changes can you think of that would have had an impact on the domestic division of labour? You might consider changes in education, female aspirations, family size and structure, and the nature of work. You might also identify other relevant changes.
The domestic division of labour debate Measuring change over time If these changes have indeed led to changes in the domestic division of labour, how could we measure this over time? Sociologist Oriel Sullivan used time-use diary data to compare people’s domestic work tasks in 1975 and 1997. Subjects were asked to fill in diaries describing what they did in their daily lives. The data covered 690 couples in 1975 and 202 couples in 1997. See Figure 1 on the following slide.
The domestic division of labour debate Figure 1: Minutes per day spent cooking and cleaning by sex, employment status and socio-economic class of household Manual/clerical Professional/technical Men 1975 1997 19751997 All 16 31 21 31 Both f/t 19 29 30 43 Husband f/t, wife p/t 15 28 18 24 Husband f/t, wife NE 12 18 18 37 Other 54 51 22 13 Women 1975 1997 1975 1997 All 213 135 208 130 Both f/t 208 167 218 146 Husband f/t, wife NE 256 182 235 162 Other 218 137 302 158 Key: f/t = in full-time employment; p/t = in part-time employment; NE = not employed. Source: Sullivan (2000: 445)
The domestic division of labour debate A more recent study A study from the USA in 2010 was less detailed than Sullivan’s — it made no allowance for male and female paid work responsibilities, for example. However, it also showed the different types of domestic work that males and females tend to do. What evidence could you take from the data to argue that the domestic division of labour is gendered? See Figure 2 on the following slide.
The domestic division of labour debate Figure 2: United States Bureau of Labour statistics study, 2010
The domestic division of labour debate European Social Survey (ESS) study, 2013 A recent ESS study, involving researchers from the UK and countries across Europe, has been monitoring for national differences in household tasks by sex. Generally, northern European countries are more equitable than those in southern Europe. The UK finished 11 th in this international table but even here 70% of housework is still done by women, including two-thirds by women who also do more than 30 hours paid work each week. See Figure 3 on the following slide.
The domestic division of labour debate Figure 3: European Social Survey study, 2013 (some international comparisons)