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Category: Essay - Rating: G - Genres: Drama - Published: 2013-12-14 - 589 words

Throughout the past 100 years, a majority of the roles within the family household have changed due to various different factors within society and social change and policy.

Although many things are different in comparison to what they used to be, Parsons, a functionalist sociologist, still believes that the husband and wife in a traditional nuclear family have segregated conjugal roles. The husband has an instrumental role; supporting the family financially which leaves the wife assuming the expressive role where she has to deal with the family's emotional needs. Parsons argues that men and women are "naturally" suited to these roles and that the domestic division of labour is based on biological differences so the roles in the family haven't changed because men and women conform to their roles on instinct.

However, Young and Wilmott, two other functionalist sociologists, take a "march of progress" view upon the situation. They believe society is close to living in symmetrical families as the conjugal roles become intergrated because men are now taking part in the housework, making life easier for women and proving that the roles have changed and become more equal.

Despite this, feminist sociologist Oakley argues that Young and Wilmott are wrong. She says that women suffer a "dual burden" of paid work and unpaid housework, therefore, concluding in men being the only ones to benefit from both the women's salary as well as the domestic work. This shows that we still live in a patriarchal society where the roles remain the same as they have in the past 100 years.

Another example of living in a patriarchal society being the reason of roles not changing within the family is decision making. In traditional nuclear families, men obtain the power because they bring in most of the money, this leads to them being able to create an allowance system for their wives. This suggests men are the superior gender within the household and the most important, causing families to continue living in the same roles where the man is the breadwinner.

However, as well as a result of society's development and women being able to get an equal education to men, they are able to work, consequently allowing them to get jobs and bring in their own wage that can be as good, sometimes better, than their husbands. This can result in the couple spreading house work and child work evenly between them when one is occupied, ending with matrifocal and symmetrical families becoming more common because they carry out joint conjugal roles.

As well as this, children's roles within the family have also changed as the state intervenes with family life by changing laws and causing society to become more child centered. The Government brought in acts such as children not being allowed to work, leading to an increase in the dependency ratio. Because if this, children have gone from being economic assets to economic burdens which means less people are having children because they are expensive to look after which causes a decrease in traditional nuclear familes and therefore, taking away a woman's duties of childwork, allowing them to live more freely and outside of roles.

There are many reasons as to why the roles have and haven't changed from living in a patriarchal society to women being able to work well paid jobs, pushing towards symmetrical and matrifocal families where there are no longer segregated conjugal roles but due to the decline in traditional nuclear families, a majority of roles within the family have changed in the past 100 years.
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