There are conflicting arguments as to whether the traditional nuclear family and how patriarchal it is. Patriarchal means male-dominated, radical feminists would support the view that the nuclear family is patriarchal as the family works against the interests of women as they are exploited and oppressed whilst performing their domestic duties. However liberal feminists would argue that there is evidence of families becoming less patriarchal today, with more women in the world of work and evidence of the ‘new man’ (Nixon) contributing to more domestic responsibilities within the family.
Radical feminists would argue that housework is patriarchal, as women are responsible for a large majority of domestic work. Oakley (1974) identified women have a dual burden, more recently Allan and Crow (2001) highlighted the double shift, where women are working outside of the home for money and then unpaid work at home, emphasising that nothing has changed. Furthermore Bibby International (2004) found that professional women in demanding jobs spend three times as long on domestic work than men, and Bibby Financial refers to those women as being DIALLS (do-it-alls). However in housework there does not seem to be evidence of joint roles although there is some evidence of some ‘movement’, Gershuny developed the idea of ‘lagged adaptation’ where women are going out to work but men have not yet caught up in terms of housework. Devine (1999) also points out that women retain primary responsibility for housework and childcare and their husbands help them, suggesting some change.
Moreover women are seen to have primary responsibility for childcare as well, as Dryden (1999) points out that women have a major responsibility for housework and childcare. Thompson et al (2005) found that fathers viewed being the breadwinner the most important aspect of being a father, highlighting their priorities where they follow their traditional instrumental role. In addition, Dunne (1997) found that lesbian households where the couple had children there was more negotiation and flexibility in terms of who looked after the child, they were also more likely to take turns in reducing hours in paid work to suit the demands of childcare, which stresses the point that women are commonly known as the caring and nurturing model. However there is evidence that suggests roles have become more joint and more active, this is supported by Gray (2006). Furthermore, Dermott (2003) found that the male breadwinner turned into the ‘intimate father’, combining work with family life. Also Hatter et al (2002) found evidence of the equally involved with running the home and family, the mother and father roles are interchangeable.
Additionally, feminists would argue how decision making is dominantly patriarchal, highlighted by Edgell’s (1980) study, showing the perceived importance of decision making laying with men. Decision-making lay with men as they made the money they had the power in the relationship in this respect. Also feminists Caplow, Abbott and Wallace find that many families move because of the man’s job and this can have a negative impact on women, as they are detached from all of their local connections. Moreover women are also expected to do the ‘taken for granted assumptions’, like looking after the children when they are sick and washing up, Allan and Crow also point out that these are often dominated by men, as they set the agenda for debate. However Edgell’s study is dated and there is evidence of decision-making becoming more joint. Furthermore with the independence of women, there is evidence of women taking control and more responsibility for decision-making, Ginsters found that 75% of women make decisions, and also Leighton (1992) identified that when men become unemployed women take on responsibilities for bills and initial cutbacks, showing the movement over the years of…