CHANGES IN FAMILY ROLES

Most focus used to be concerning  gender relationships, but now there's increasing attention on the child, who aren't just seen as passive recipients of social conditioning, but individuals making active choices. Just as feminism changed peoples' perspectives of women, the new sociology of childhood has questioned the subordinate role of children in families.

FUNCTIONALIST VIEW OF FAMILY ROLES

 Parents lead, children follow. One gender role of parent is male instrumental, the other female expressive.

THE CHANGING ROLE OF THE CHILD

 Children are all biologically different, but social meaning is socially defined. Social meaning of chldhood varies from time to time and place to place; so childhood is a social construction.

 In early industrial Britiain, Children were seen as an  economic asset who will work and care for the old.
 Modern industrial: children centre of family life. Gittins described children as a luxury to be enjoyed by adults. People talk about 'being able to afford children'.
 Many children still work within  and outside the family.
 Remember the differences between children, ethnicity, gender etc. also shapes their experience.

The 'new sociology of childhood' (Hood-Williams, 1990) believes children anre controlled and even oppressed inthe family and outside of it.

CHANGES IN GENDER ROLES

 Feminists: based on patriarchy. Supported by patriarchal ideology, learned through peer, school etc.
 Power relationship can be seen in decision making (studies e.g. Edgell, have focused on decisions over spending), domestic division of labour, domestic violence (Dobash and Dobash).

ARE GENDER ROLES IN THE FAMILY MORE EQUAL?
 
 Feminists reject the equality suggested in 'Symmetrical Family' (Willmot and Young (1974)).

THE 1970'S

 Studies like Oakley's Sociology of Housework, argued that women still do childcare.
 Bolten said men do some, but only 9 out of 50 helped extensively.

1980's

 Unemployment, men could do more. However, Morris (1995) suggested that wives of the unemployed didn't necessarily seek paid work. If they did, men didn't do housework. Both partners still saw bread-winning as male.

1990's

 Wheelock (1990) said when men don't work and women do, men do more housework. But, working-class families would have preferred a more traditional division of labour.

All sociological approaches explain the social construction of childhood differently, but agree it's not simply a biological stage.
Patriarchal ideology is a set of beliefs that support male domination.