Type: Sociology
Pages: 6 | Words: 1588
Reading Time: 7 Minutes

Dear Dr. Parsons,

In studying the family as a part of the society that is affected, shaped, and also contributes to the former, you and Mr. Bales made considerable contributions to human sociological studies. Moreover, taking into account the gender roles of the ideal modern family of the 1950s, you set a baseline of comparison for future studies in the discipline of human sociology and others concerning the family unit. In agreement with other scholars, you and Mr. Bales argued that at those industrial times the family had narrowed down to the nuclear family unit with little or no influence from the extended family. Further, the meaning of the notion had taken a new face. Marriages were no longer affected by business gains, but rather due to emotional connection between the partners. Both economic and social factors were favorable for a male-breadwinner family structure, which you and Mr. Bales assumed to be a permanent scenario when developing your argument. However, this statement failed to take into account possible future changes affecting the aspects of the model. I will discuss the approach used by you and Mr. Bales, which neglected the perpetual nature of historical change, the dynamic economic environment, and the changes in the social and cultural policies when supporting the 1950s ideal modern family. In developing this framework, you and Mr. Bales failed to acknowledge that the high wages employments are not common to all times, and did not consider the contribution of economic, social, and cultural factors to the stable families of the 1950s, which could change over time offsetting the balance. As a result of these misconceptions, the framework is not feasible for families in other generations with different economic and cultural contexts. However, your and Mr. Bales’ gender roles ideologies are still at work in some families today resulting in incredible tensions in the families.

The ideal modern family framework was founded on the argument that progressive historical changes have brought the family to a point where to fulfill the primary roles, socialization of children, and stabilizing them into adults of the society there should be a male-breadwinner and a female house manager (Parsons & Bales 1955:16). However, after making this statement, you and Mr. Bales overlooked the effect of the progressive historical change on their family models in years to come. The historical changes have made the American family structure change to acquire different forms, from being extended kinship-based to becoming nuclear love-based. In the 1950s, most of families comprised married couples with children. Currently, this arrangement has changed. There are many family arrangements such as single mothers living with their children, unmarried couples with or without children, married couples with or without children and single fathers living with their children. As the extended family further loses grip, new family relations are coming into play. According to Cohen (2014), the empowerment of women has given them the capacity of rearing children without necessarily being in a marriage. The male-breadwinner type of families is mostly characterized by abuse, with which employed women could not put up. Consequently, the escalation of the divorce rate and the number of single mothers occurred. As a result of the complex family arrangements, it is impossible to consider any of them as ideal one. It also complicates the policy-making process concerning family-related issues, since there are many contradictory arrangements, in which children are brought up, and trying to adapt those arrangements under an ideal framework would cause overlooking the needs of most of the children. Currently, only twenty two percent of children live in your and Mr. Bales’ ideal modern family (Cohen 2014). Therefore, the assumptions of this framework leave out most of the children in America, whose families do not fit in the model. Since historical changes are dynamic, it is difficult to predict the turn of events in the future and the new family structures they will bring. Overlooking this concept, you and Mr. Bales developed the ideal modern family framework, which was weak and unfeasible for subsequent generations.

Apart from historical changes, the economic, as well as social and cultural factors, have altered, disfavoring the functionality of your model. As Coontz (2000) puts it, women living in the discussed families perceive the restrictive gender roles as a form of social oppressions. As females progressed in high educations, they could not sit and tolerate the oppressive gender roles any longer. They aspired to develop their potential the same way as men did it through pursuing their careers. Therefore, with the uprising of women movement and feminism, women took to working leaving behind the home manager role. Additionally, the economic situation of the 1950s was favorable for a one provider family arrangement (Mills 1959). During the 1950s, there were high wages jobs for all whites, both educated and uneducated. Therefore, the amount that a man earned was sufficient to take care of the family. Additionally, there were favorable housing and mortgage policies that empowered the one provider families to own homes and acquire loans with ease. The economic times changed, and the rate of unemployment increased necessitating supplementary incomes. The wages were on the downward move, too, as well as job loss escalated. Interestingly, during the 1950s, the families were happy and increased their expenses, first of all, on consumer goods. With escalated consumption, decreased wages, and possible unemployment for the one male breadwinner, women had to venture into the job market. You and Mr. Bales ignored the fact that the economic, as well as social, and cultural issues of the 1950s, were favorable for the ideal modern family, circumstances which were temporary and did not ensure that the model would fit in other ones.

This framework is unfeasible for families today, yet it has considerable influence on the same. According to Arlie Hochschild and Ann Machung (2003), the gender role ideologies developed by you and Mr. Bales have resulted in the second shift for the working women. In her words, the researchers describe the situation when a working woman has to work after work, up to fifteen hours in a week more than her husband as she takes care of household responsibilities (Hochschild & Machung 2003). Further, Hochschild and Machung argue that families are taking different approaches to the second shift issue in a bid to resolve the tensions arising from working mothers and your gender roles ideologies. There are three categories of couples: traditional, transitional and egalitarian ones. Traditional couples have the woman doing all the house responsibilities while the man is the provider. This category has its tensions such as the wife being dissatisfied with what she gets from the husband. Women feel tired of always taking money from their husbands as well as of financial constraints, which do not favor family progress and good relations. Next, there are the transition couples, where men are identified with work while women could be working but have to identify with the family. This group has the most tensions. The wives are working, but their husbands do not want to render helping hands in the household responsibilities. Therefore, the women have to act as the supermoms and the gender ideal females. As a result, they are tired and exhausted, have no personal time for leisure and do not get enough sleep. Due to these, the relationship in the family grows tense, and the children are likely to be affected by the unbalanced family responsibilities. In the egalitarian family, the spouses are working and share house responsibilities almost on an equal basis. The family members enjoy a lot of time spent together, considerably high incomes, and little tension in relations. However, the husband is likely to face criticism from extended family regarding the roles he plays and being considered to be gender sensitive. In a nutshell, although family structures have changed, the gender roles and ideologies developed by you and Mr. Bales are still at work. In all the family groupings, the husbands have flexible household duties and the freedom to choose with what they will help and with what they will not. That is why working women have to work more time than men and do more house duties than their husbands.

Conclusively, you and Mr. Bales made an undisputable contribution to the study of family relations and roles. However, you made undue assumptions that render your model unfeasible in current situations. All the same, the gender roles developed by you and Mr. Bales are still at work triggering family tension among working spouses. The changes in cultural, social, and economic policies have favored the emergence and survival of diverse family arrangements. It is no longer possible to classify the families using one system since the current family arrangements have very diverse and, at times, contradictory characteristics. Consequently, to fulfill the family’s primary role, according to you and Mr. Bales, these family structures operate differently. Thus, there cannot be one ideal way for all of them to function. In the same way, historical changes brought about the male-breadwinner family arrangement, they are bound to bring new family arrangements fit to operate in different environments. You and Mr. Bales did not take this fact into consideration; hence, you could not foresee the many family arrangements in operation now. The arguments of your framework are strong and evident to date, but the holding of those gender restrictive roles is a source of conflict today instead of family stability as you and Mr. Bales argued. In the contemporary family, people work for convenience rather than gender-spelled roles, which limit and underrate the financial contribution of women.

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