At the outset itself, this quotation describes the position of women in practically most society. Women are there to make children, are mothers and wives, act as the ‘house-maid’, take care of their husbands and families, bear male authority, being deprived of high status jobs and position of power. So, there is this element of discrimination which has prevailed through time.
Definition of Family
According to Sociologists, the family is an intimate domestic group of people related to one another by bonds of blood, sexual mating, or legal ties. It has been a very resilient social unit that has survived and adapted through time. So, the element of time referred to above, is again present here.
The family acts as a primary socialization of children whereby the child first learns the basic values and norms of the culture they will grow up in. a child needs to be carefully nurtured, cherished and molded into responsible individuals with good values and strong ethics. Therefore, it is important to provide them the best childcare so that they grow up to be physically, mentally and emotionally strong individuals.
Similarly, The United States Census Bureau (2007) defines the family as a relatively permanent group of two or more people who are related by blood, marriage or adoption and who live under the same roof.
Stephen (1999) defines the family as a social arrangement based on marriage including recognition of rights and duties of parenthood, common residence for husband, wife and children are reciprocal economic obligations between husband and wife.
The family is seen as the main pillar block of a community; family structure and upbringing influence the social character and personality of any given society. Family is where everybody learns to love, to care, to be compassionate, to be ethical, to be honest, to be fair, to have common sense, to use reasoning etc., values which are essential for living in a community. Yet, there are ongoing debates that families’ values are in decline. Moreover the same family is viewed as an ‘oppressive and bankrupt institution’.
George Peter Murdock (1949) defines the family as a universal institution. According to him, the family is a ‘social group characterised by common residence, economic corporation and reproduction. It includes adults of both sexes at least two of whom maintain a socially approved sexual relationship and one or more children owned or adopted of the sexually cohabiting adults’. However, K. Gough (1959) criticises Murdock definition and argues that the family is not universal. The critics were founded in the Nayar society.
Women and the Family
The main role of women according to John Bowlby (1953) is particularly to act as mothers and as such their places are at home to take care of their children in their tender age. He states that juvenile delinquencies among young children are the result of psychological separation from mothers. The mental stability of children rests solely on their mothers. Therefore there is a need for a close and intimate mother and child relationship.
However, Oakley (1974) uses the example of Alor, an island in Indonesia to refute Bowlby statement. In ‘small-scale horticultural societies, women are not tied to their offspring’, and there is no apparent side effect to it’. Moreover, she does not see the ‘intimate and close relationship’ necessary. Research has proved that mothers return to work after childbirth and that the children of working mothers are ‘less likely to be delinquent’ than non-working mothers.
Crouch (1999) describes the benefits gained by wives and mothers as the ‘mid century social compromise’. Duncan et al. (year) argue that women who define themselves as ‘primarily mothers’ are located at all points on the social spectrum.
Patricia Day Hookoomsing (2002) states that, plans and projects are designed and implemented by men. It is assumed that if men as heads of the family will reap the benefit from projects designed, automatically women and children will benefit.
The Darker Side of the Family / Erosion of Family Life
Earlier in this review of literature, it is shown that the family is warm and supportive. However, many writers have questioned the ‘darker side of the family’. The fact that women spend most of their time either at work or doing household chores can lead to emotional stress in the family. The twentieth century family is mostly nucleus and thus children at times feel isolated and lacking the support of their extended kins: grandparents, aunts, cousins etc. They become introvert and their stress level rise to such an extent that when ‘explosion’ occurs, it can have dramatic results. This may lead to violence, psychological damage, mental illness, drug intake, crime etc.
The breakdown of children may lead to quarrel between parents. In the long run, marriages may fail and consequently lead to divorce. Incidence that may appear trivial can blow out of proportions and cause drastic consequence within the family. The mass media is increasingly bringing to people attention the sexual, physical and emotional abuse of children through neglect. Similarly, The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (2000) parts that around 10% of children suffering from serious abuse or neglect at home by natural parents.
Domestic violence is very prevalent in any society. It is estimated that one in four women are victim of domestic violence.
Conception about Family and Work
Families and work have often been illustrated as separate entities, with women being linked to the home and men to the workplace. This separation unfortunately emanated by the sociology of the family being carried out as a separate domain from the sociology of work and occupations. However this assumption does not stand good in view of the increased participation of married women in the workplace.
Early work by Rhona Raraport and Robert N. Raraport (1969) on dual-career families has talked about the benefits and strains of families with dual-earners. There are, however, many questions still to be answered concerning the interaction of family and work.
Harkness and Waldfogel (1999) advocate that the formation of a family touches mostly female rather than male labour force behaviour. The withdrawal from labour after childbirth may lead to a ‘depreciation of human capital’. This may affect career commitment to employers and affect career progression.
There are changes in family arrangements which prompt changes in production arrangements (Zaretsky 1976). Consumption was favoured to production within the household. ‘Market relation became overruled by a capitalist market society and instead of economy being embedded in social relations, social relations are embedded in the economic system’ (Polanyi 1957). Dapne Johnson (1982) relates that the hours of work and schooling are organized at such time that it has become difficult to single-parent and dual-worker family. Moreover, school holidays add up to the problems of who will look after the child.
Full-time married or cohabiting women generally have less time for leisure, as they are often expected to do two jobs – their paid work and unpaid housework inside the family, Ken Brown (2008).
WOMEN AND WORK
For most of us, work occupies a larger part of our lives than other single type of activity. In our modern societies having a job is important for maintaining self-esteem and to live in better conditions. According to Ken Brown (2008), work is the production of goods and services that usually earns a wage or salary or provides other rewards. The work may be effected in the formal or informal economy. He argues that work is an ‘important element in occupying, directing and structuring the individual’s time – the demands of working life involve a high degree of self discipline if jobs are to be kept. It is, for most people, the single biggest commitment of time in any week, and it is perhaps one of the most important experiences affecting people’s entire lives.’ Work affects the amount of time and money available for family life.
Work and family life have always been interdependent, but the increased employment of mothers just like nowadays the number of women working has risen from 66.2 million in 2009 compared to 1950 where it was 18.4 million.
Pauline Wilson and Allan Kidd (1998) refer to work as a distinctive and clear cut activity. Work refers to the job or occupation undertaken. Work is both the place where one goes in order to do one’s job and the activity that one’s does.
Sociologies increasingly recognize however that it is not easy to define work. The definitions concentrate solely on paid employment and are too narrow. Keith Grint (1991) also states the same thing and even presents a number of definitions to prove what he says:-
Work can be seen as ‘that which ensures individual and societal survival by engaging in nature’. The problem is that many activities which cannot be seen are often regarded as work.
Work cannot be defined simply as employment. Activities in which people are employed are also performed by people who are not employed. Examples include washing, ironing, etc.,
Work cannot be defined as ‘something which can be done’ whether it is liked or not.
Work can finally not be seen as non-leisure activities. Activities may be leisure for some but work for others. Work and leisure would be hard to separate if it goes together.