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Division Of Labor In A Household

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Division of labor in a Household

The division of labor in the household hold depends on the environment. Society creates gender ideology that affects the roles women and men take on in the household. In The Second Shift by Arlie Russell, she states three different ideologies of gender. There is the traditional, transitional and egalitarian ideology that determines what sphere men and women want to identify with, home sphere or work sphere. However, it depends what kind on the time period and society you live in that determines the "norm" gender ideology, which affects the division of labor in a household. The society, which affected the Mendoza and Ortega family that I have observed and interviewed, constructs views of the appropriate roles for men and women in the family devotion schema.


An important period of United States history that affected the division of household labor was during the earlier industrial revolution. Before the industrial revolution in America, men and women work in the farm; it was a private family farm that both men and women worked. So around the 1830's these farms were taking over by corporation, and during this time there was a growth of factories, trades and business in the new cities of America, which attracted men and women away from the farm life. However, there was a transition in economy of America, which affected men and women, but it affected them differently. The jobs that men were receiving were different from what women were getting. "In 1860, most industrial workers were men." While, men where working in factories women where working in more domestic jobs, but only 15% of women were working for paid. Hence, most women stayed at home to take care of the second shift, housework. When men started working in factories and women working in domestic jobs, this change the way people lived, especially family life. Now men are leaving their homes, where they use to work as farmers, to city to work, while women primary stay at home to work. During this time period, the lives of men where changing more drastically, but women identity was still identifying with the home, while men were identifying with his paid work.

Nowadays, women's lives have changed significantly due to the expansion of jobs that have gave women more opportunities for them to identify with paid job, instead with the second shift. Women's "wages has been increasingly needed at home, it has become that the 'women's turn' to move into the industrial economy". Women are working more and identify their womanhood with the paid work as men do. Hochschild has claimed that in 1950, 30% of women were in the labor force, but in 2002, 60%, of women were working outside the home in the labor force. Women are working more outside from the house was one change, but another significant transformation that occurred in the family devotion scheme was that women have fewer children then they use to. During the 1800's women had eight children, but in 1988 the average less than two children. Having less children and working outside the house affected the house devotion scheme. With the shift from working at home (private farms) to working in the labor force, now men and women are working outside the home creating dilemmas with the second shift (housework). Today, it's 63% of all marriage with children is of two-job marriage. Some mothers work fulltime, but others work part-time due to the family devotion scheme.

With mothers working either fulltime and part-time, there has been "mommy wars", coined by Nina Darnton in 1990. This dilemma, the mommy wars, constitutes of two socially constructed cultural images on how mothers should behave. One of the socially contracted images of mothers is the traditional mother or stay-at-home mom. On the other hand, there is a portrait of the "supermom" or the working mother. This notion of two different motherhoods was constructed based on society gender ideology norm. It could be seen that the society has identify childrearing, which is part of the second shift, with women, but not men. So how do all these changes in society and family affect the division of household labor?

Topic: Division of Second Shift Within Families Thesis

Scholars have researched on how to integrate gender within the main organizing constructs of social life. One social realm where scholars have vastly research is family structure. The family institution has encountered much gender problem issue, starting with "who does the housework". During this period of time, where women are gaining more civil freedom in society, there has still been a struggler for equality within society and family spheres. I investigated how gender role is significant within the family institutional context, especially in the division of labor in household. The second shift, which is used by Hochschild, "borrowed from the industrial life" is an "idea that homemaking was a shift", it is a second shift because the first shift is labor force." Moreover, the idea of the "devotion to family scheme" is a culture model that defines marriage and motherhood as a women's primary vocation. Therefore with these two notions on the family roles, the main driving question of this research is how do urban employed married couples with children divide the housework.

A main reason why there is a division of household sphere is the fact that society affects the way people identify their manhood and womanhood, which creates a family devotion scheme. In Hochschild, The Second Shift identified three types of gender ideology: traditional, transitional, and egalitarian. Traditional men want to identify themselves with work, and the women want to be identified with the home. Transitional men would support wife to go out to work, but expect the wife to still do the housework. Transitional women want to classify themselves with home and work, and want her husband to identify with the work sphere. The third gender ideology is the egalitarian, where men and women want to identify with both spheres the labor force and the housework, equally. With these definitions of gender ideology within marriage couple resulted to the thesis of my paper. The answer to the question I purposed would be that there would always be a person who does more housework then the other person.

My research

To answer the main question, how and why do urban employed married couples with children divide the housework, I interviewed and observed two couples, that have younger children living in different boroughs of New York City. One of the couple, The Mendoza family,



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