Within nuclear families, roles are allocated between husbands and wives in accordance with the assumed instrumental characteristics of males (which make them more suited to paid employment outside of the home) and the assumed expressive characteristics of females (which make them more suited to childcare and domestic work). Feminist Criticisms of Functionalist Theories of the Family There are divisions within feminism, mainly between liberal, radical and Marxist feminism but all feminists are critical in various respects of functionalist theories of the family. Feminist argue that: 1. gender differences in socialisation within the family and elsewhere operate to the disadvantage of females; 2. traditional roles allocated within the family show characteristics of males and females respectively but the existence of patriarchal power within the family; 3. that there is nothing "expressive" about many household tasks; 4. traditional allocation of gender roles restricts female employment opportunities and prospects; 5. when women are employed outside the home this may mean that they are obliged to undertake the so-called "triple shift" of employment, housework/childcare and emotion work; 6. ...read more.
They argue that the traditional housewife/mother role imposes unfair burdens on women but that their apparent readiness to accept this role provides services to their husbands at low cost which means that male workers can be employed at lower wages than would otherwise be possible so that women are , in effect, subsidising the capitalist system. And that it is women who are the main source within the family of emotional support and women who are the main victims of domestic abuse which may be caused ultimately by the frustrations generated by the capitalist system;