To what extent are roles and responsibilities changing? (24 marker)
Families are viewed by functionalists as a nuclear family structure, which consists of a father, mother and approximated two children. According to Murdock every society has a form of nuclear family structure, which is the majority type of family in every society that he investigated. However, family structures have gradually changed for several reasons, and different family structures have emerged in UK.
Functionalists such as Parsons, suggested that there are two important roles within the family, called expressive and instrumental roles. The woman is the expressive role, and it means that she was the one who raised, disciplined, and educated family morals to the children. The father is the instrumental role, which means that he maintained the family financially, suggesting these are a segregated type of family, as they have separated conjugal roles. Parsons argued that this separated roles occurred naturally, and it is fundamental in order to have a well-structured family.
Young and Wilmott (1970) suggested that nuclear families become to have joint conjugal roles, leading to the development of a more symmetrical family structure, as men and womens roles become more balanced, with similar roles. They believed this new family structure was developed within the middle class families, and extended to other family class such as working class. Their research showed that couples commenced to share family decisions; it also showed that the man started to stay more in the house, performing housework and looking after the children, where women began to leave the house to have a salaried job.
However, feminists have criticised the idea of a symmetrical family, such as Ann Oakley. She believed that there is still an existing a considerable difference in conjugal roles. She interviewed several mothers about their family’s relationship and their household roles; and the results showed that women were still mainly responsible for the children and the housework, although some admitted that they have had a little amount of help from their partner. This research was supported by others feminists such as Boulton (1983), who also investigated symmetrical family and discovered that domestic division labour still unequal.
Margaret Benston (1972), a Marxist feminist, also believed that women are overloaded with jobs, and she named it as triple shift, which are the roles that women execute on the daily basis such as childcare, housework, paid job, and on the top of all of this, they have to deal and manage the emotional side of the family, acting as a therapists. This showed that all this effort that women put into the family are mainly beneficial to their husband, as he would have everything ready for him, such as clean clothes, ready meals and therefore he would be able to go out fresh, and successfully perform well at his job, and eventually leading to pay increase, as he do not have as m...