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Division of Labor

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  1. Division of Labor • Physical work and symbolic meanings attached to work done in the household • In U.S., defined as the “private” sphere—traditionally associated with women and unpaid labor • Split from the “public” sphere—traditionally associated with men and paid labor, “real work” • Separate spheres doctrine developed with the rise of western capitalism, industrialization, urbanization and the creation of the middle class

  2. Defining household labor • What gets measured as labor? Definitions of household labor not always agreed upon • Housework—cleaning, cooking, paying bills • Both inside/outside house? • Necessity versus leisure (barbecuing—cooking or recreation)? • Child care • Emotion work—emotional care for others

  3. Measuring household labor • Different sociological methods get different results • Time budget studies: how much time do people spend on which tasks? • Self-report: ask them to keep diaries of activities; ask them to estimate on an hourly--daily, weekly basis; ask one member to estimate other member’s time spent (wife to husband, husband to wife) • Detached observation: observe them as they spend time (detached observation)

  4. Gender differences in tasks • Household labor highly gendered with stereotypes matching research—women do inside labor, men do outside labor • Tasks are sex-segregated • Women do more housework than men—in 1995 women spent 17.5 hours a week (excluding child care), men averaged ten hours a week. • Women do 80% of child care. • Ethnic differences: African American men do more household labor than white men except in traditional men’s labor (outdoor, auto, bills). Less stigma to women working outside home (historical necessities).

  5. Generational changes • Decreasing gender gap in household labor between women and men—1965 women averaged more than six times hours spent in housework than men, 1995 1.8 times hours of men • Longitudinal research shows women spending fewer hours doing household labor today than forty years ago, men doing more child care • Women who work for pay do fewer hours of household work than full-time homemakers, and women part-time workers do less household work than full-time workers (p. 136?!) • Women not spending less time in child care—taking time out of doing housework

  6. Women’s Second Shift • Arlie Hochschild’s ethnographic study of household labor she called The Second Shift because women work two jobs—employed and at home. • She estimated women spent 15 hours a week more than men on housework, meant working an extra month of 24 hour days a year than men • Men do tasks that involved greater personal discretion and more likely to have fixed beginning and end (changing oil on car) women do tasks of everyday necessity (cooking); with children—men do interactive tasks (playing) women do custodial • Hochschild found differences between individual and family gender ideologies and actual practices—developed “family myths” to account for discrepancies. • Criticism for overgeneralizing from too small sample, discounting generational change

  7. Relative resource theory • The resources that a person brings to family determines amount of housework time—more resource (paid work income) less time spent with converse true. • Wives do less housework and men do more as the proportion of family income contributed by the wife increases (Bianchi, Schwartz and Blumstein). • When wives are same age as husbands, they do less housework and husbands do more than when wives are two or more years younger. • Criticism—how are these negotiations accomplished?

  8. Time studies • Amount of time spent on tasks determined by time availability affected by children and employment demands • Children increase the hours women spend performing housework more than men’s housework hours. Men’s participation increases when wives not available to do it. • Earlier research shows divorced women with children doing less housework than married women suggesting presence of men increases amount of housework women do.

  9. Family Types • Blumstein/Schwartz study that looked at four types of household—heterosexual married, heterosexual cohabiting, gay male, lesbian, found married women performed more housework than cohabiting women. • No differences found between married and cohabiting men. • Gay and lesbian households more egalitarian although person who brought home more money had more power.

  10. Interactionist theory • What meanings do individuals give to actual work done? • People do not give the same meanings to household labor that they give to paid labor. • Do beliefs produce activities or do activities produce beliefs? • Parents in families where housework/childcare shared view women and men as more similar than in households with less equity where sexes viewed as more different.

  11. Household roles • Household roles and ideologies about them develop in relation to economic changes. Differ by society, history, culture • In Europe and U.S., with Industrial Revolution men went into industrialized workforce and became “breadwinner”, women went into unpaid household labor in middle classes and became “nurturer; children became more dependents less workers/miniature adults.

  12. Mother role • What makes a “good” mother? A “bad” one? Depends on culture, diversity in ideologies and practices • Western feminist critique “compulsory motherhood”—women should have kids and take care of them. Conservatives critique this critique as “anti-family” or “anti-mother.” • Social class differences--McMahon study—working class women saw motherhood as entrance into adult status; middle class saw motherhood as an accomplishment after establishing career as marker of adult status, affected timing of childbirth • Afrocentric ideology of motherhood--Importance of Black Othermothers (fictive kin) and Women-centered networks of social care extends meaning of mothering beyond individual family into community mothering (Hill Collins)

  13. Motherhood wage penalty • Role conflicts between paid work and unpaid family labor for women. Assumption that mothers not good employees, not “ideal workers” • Employed mothers earn less than non-mothers. Estimate wage penalty of about 7% per child. • Women lose seniority and work experience as mothers. Less time at work, less energy for work. Explains only 1/3 of wage penalty. Accounting for similar experience/seniority, mothers earn 4% less than non-mothers. • Mothers choose jobs that are “mother-friendly” flexible schedules, on-site childcare etc. • Employers discriminate against mothers, believe mothers less committed to jobs thus treat them differently than non-mothers (don’t promote, keep and justify lower salaries, etc).

  14. Father role: • What makes a “good” father? A “bad” one? • Can we disentangle breadwinner role from father role? Role conflict or role support for fatherhood in relation to “ideal worker” myth. • Kanter: “Married men bring two people to the job, while married women bring less than one.” Assumption that married fathers have wives to do their work for them (pick up the slack and/or contribute to work outcomes?)

  15. Mens’ marriage benefit • 1992 study 4000 male college profs: never-married men had lowest salaries, followed by men with employed wives, highest salaries and achievement levels were men with nonemployed wives. • With employed wives men earned $1000 more a year than never-married men; with non-employed wives earned $2000 more than never-married.

  16. His/Her marriage • Sociologist Jessie Bernard in 1972 argued different relationship to marriage for women and men—his marriage was not like her marriage. • “Shock theory of marriage”—marriage more a shock for women than men because women give up more independence (lose name), more likely to accommodate, more likely to get distressed be less happy. Today—single men less healthy than single or married women. Whose benefits? • Power theory of marriage: those with greater resources tend to have more power in the relationship and the corollary.

  17. Gay families • Challenge to “heteronormative conceptions of family” • Conservatives don’t recognize legitimacy rights of gay parents. U.S. Defense of Marriage Act only recognizes marriage between heterosexuals. • What about where there are two women mothers? One biological and one fictive, or two non-biological fathers? • Gay couples share more time together and share more interests • More egalitarian because less gender scripted by social gender norms • Research shows kids of gay parents no more likely to be gay than kids of straight parents. • Problems are discrimination against gays and their kids.

  18. Raising Gender-Aschematic Children • Psychologist Sandra Bem says we should seek to raise gender-aschematic kids to undermine the dominant gender ideologies and stereotypes • Thinks kids should be taught biology of sex in terms of anatomy and reproduction to undermine stereotypical cultural correlates of sex as definitional of gender (p. 154) • Teach about variability of individuals within groups as compared with small mean differences between groups • Teach cultural relativism and consequences of sex discrimination

  19. References • Wharton, Chapter 5 • Philip Blumstein & Pepper Schwartz, American Couples (1983) • Arlie Hochschild, The Second Shift (1989) • Patricia Hill Collins, Black Feminist Thought (2000) • Abigail Garner, Families Like Mine: Children of Gay Parents Tell It Like It Is (2004)