Assessment of the Claim that the Family Has Become Increasingly Symmetrical

Assessment of the Claim that the Family Has Become Increasingly Symmetrical

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Assessment of the Claim that the Family Has Become Increasingly Symmetrical

Many sociologists have different perspectives on whether or not the
family has become increasingly symmetrical. Some sociologists such as
Willmott and Young believe that the family does not consist of
conjugal roles where the couple have separate roles, such as the women
carrying out the expressive role and the male carrying out the
instrumental role.

Whereas there are other assumptions that have been made by other
sociologists, such as Ann Oakley, a feminist, who believes that
household roles are not joint, the cohabiting couple do not share
household tasks like childcare and housework.

Writers such as Willmott and Young have argued that contemporary
family life in Britain is becoming increasingly symmetrical. While
there remains some forms of role segregation, modern families place
emphasis on both joint conjugal roles and an overall equality of
household roles. They see family life as gradually improving for all
its members and that families are becoming more democratic and equal.

They did a study of families living in London and they found that the
symmetrical family was more common amongst younger couples, those that
are socially isolated and generally families that are better off. They
also see the rise of the symmetrical nuclear family as the result of
the major social changes that have taken place over past years.

Ann Oakley claims that the family is not symmetrical, roles are still
segregated and that roles are socially constructed, stemming from the
fact the society and the family are patriarchal.

She criticises Willmot and Young’s clai...


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to apply to everyone in Britain. Aswell as this they interviewed the
couple’s together, therefore putting pressure on the wives to say that
their husbands did more than they actually did.

In light of the above evidence, women are still a long way away from
real symmetry of roles in the family, as proved by Oakley, Pahl,
Edgell and Duncombe and Marsden. All these sociologists have given
some kind of evidence towards the fact that there has been a slight
movement toward equality, but ultimately women still take the prime
responsibility for the household tasks and childcare, and they still
have less power in the relationship within the family and
economically. All of this evidence towards a non symmetrical family
has disproved Willmott and Young’s theory of symmetry in the family,
although not completely.

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