On the basis of the statement above I will research the changes that have occurred within the family concerning the equal division of labour between men and women in the family home.
The growth of female’s working in higher paid jobs and the idea of men who stay at home to do the housework and childcare becoming more common and popular is contradictive and suggests Oakley’s statement is no longer true. However in general and certainly in the media the housewife is still portrayed very much as a feminine role and the breadwinner as a predominantly male role.
Contexts and Concepts
The main concept for joint conjugal roles becoming such an issue of conflict in the home is the increase of women in full time paid employment. This is known as ‘dual burden’. When women not only have the burden of their own career but are also still expected to take the responsibility for the bulk of household tasks and childcare.
Gershuny’s, “Change in the domestic division of labour in the UK” 1975-1987, was a longitudinal study that found an increase in equality within the home. He found the longer the woman was in paid employment, the more the man helped out with household tasks, Gershuny referred to this as “lagged adaptation”.
He admitted that although the “dual burden” of women in the home had a long way to go before disappearing that there was an increase in men sharing household roles with women.
This study contradicts Oakley’s findings that there is no progress towards equality in the home.
In a more recent study on the amount of housework done between men and women, carried out for the insurance company “Legal and General” in April 2000, results showed full time working Mother’s spent 56 hours per week on housework and childcare increasing to 84 hours per week when they have children aged 5 and under, compared with men’s 31 hours every week.
A further study in October 2000 found women were receiving more help towards housework and childcare from Husbands/Partners and two thirds of men claimed they did far more work in the home than their Father’s did.
This supports Gershuny’s claim that equality of housework between men and women is improving. However the above study states that if this improves at the rate it is now it will still take until approximately 2015 before household tasks are equally shared between men and women.
Main Research and Methods
To obtain my research I will use a method known as ‘time budgeting’, a type of diary.
This method will be suitable for the research I need and will produce qualitative information about the difference in hours spent on domestic labour between men and women.
The reason I have chosen time budgeting as my method of research is that over ordinary questionnaires or one to one discussions, similar to how Oakley obtained research for her study in 1974, the respondent has got a longer time limit to obtain the research and will be more likely to fill out more reliable information as they have longer to consider their answers and can fill them out in their own time. This type of diary will also prove more systematic as it is specifically aimed to produce the research needed.
My study will consist of ten households, although this is quite a small scale it will still give an insight into how the domestic roles of men and women have changed.
As my study is of such small scale I will use families that are all in similar situations, the requirements of each household will be:
* Typical nuclear family- Two parents (one Mother/one Father)
With at least two children under ten years old.
* Both parents work full time
* No extra domestic help e.g. housekeeper/cleaner.
The ideal way to choose the households for my research would be through ‘stratified random sampling’ however this won’t be possible due to my lack of access to personal records, e.g.- medical records. Therefore I will use a less scientific approach, ‘opportunity sampling’. Where I will choose any family suitable and willing.
The diary will be filled in over a one week period, this should give an indication of how the weekly tasks concerning domestic labour and childcare are divided between the male and female of the household.
I will ask that the time budgeting diary is filled in by both the man and the woman in the family every day. I will ask them to record details on the following:
1. Each domestic task they have completed,
2. How long each particular task took them,
3. How they feel about doing each task,
4. How often they personally do it.
With each adult recording this each day will show which families are in a daily/weekly routine concerning domestic labour and how equally it is shared between man and woman.
I will also ask each adult to write an extra conclusive opinion of how they feel about the equality of domestic labour, how they feel about the changes and how they would like things to change from a personal and societical point of view.
The main potential problem if using this method would be the validity of the results, as I am leaving the obtainment of research up to the participants I cannot be certain the information is accurate or truthful. They will know their answers will be used for research and this may influence them to change their diary to match the ideological couple, for example men may add or even do more household chores just while doing the time budgeting diary because they want to appear as a ‘new man’.
The time budgeting method itself could pose problems as even though it can be filled in at the participant’s leisure they may rush to fill it in and may miss out tasks they have done throughout the day or mot fill in their true opinions.
Also the week the time budget is carried out could be an untypical week for the family and for one reason or another their results might not be accurate compared to a ‘normal’ week.
The sample itself is also a potential problem, as it is quite small it would be difficult to generalize from the results particularly to represent the whole population. As characteristics of the family such as, age, religion, occupation and ethnic origin wouldn’t be accounted for. The class of the family could also make the results unreliable especially as previous research suggests middle class couples share the most equal roles concerning housework and work.