Skip to main content
Login | Suomeksi | På svenska | In English

Browsing by Author "Briggs, Martin"

Sort by: Order: Results:

  • Briggs, Martin (2011)
    The current study is a longitudinal investigation into changes in the division of household labour across transitions to marriage and parenthood in the UK. Previous research has noted a more traditional division of household labour, with women performing the majority of housework, amongst spouses and couples with children. However, the bulk of this work has been cross-sectional in nature. The few longitudinal studies that have been carried out have been rather ambiguous about the effect of marriage and parenthood on the division of housework. Theoretically, this study draws on gender construction theory. The key premise of this theory is that gender is something that is performed and created in interaction, and, as a result, something fluid and flexible rather than fixed and stable. The idea that couples ‘do gender’ through housework has been a major theoretical breakthrough. Gender-neutral explanations of the division of household labour, positing rational acting individuals, have failed to explicate why women continue to perform an unequal share of housework, regardless of socio-economic status. Contrastingly, gender construction theory situates gender as the key process in dividing household labour. By performing and avoiding certain housework chores, couples fulfill social norms of what it means to be a man and a woman although, given the emphasis on human agency in producing and contesting gender, couples are able to negotiate alternative gender roles which, in turn, feed back into the structure of social norms in an ever-changing societal landscape. This study adds extra depth to the doing gender approach by testing whether or not couples negotiate specific conjugal and parent roles in terms of the division of household labour. Both transitions hypothesise a more traditional division of household labour. Data comes from the British Household Panel Survey, a large, nationally representative quantitative survey that has been carried out annually since 1991. Here, data tracks the same 776 couples at two separate time points – 1996 and 2005. OLS regression is used to test whether or not transitions to marriage and parenthood have a significant impact on the division of household labour whilst controlling for host of relevant socio-economic factors. Results indicate that marriage has no significant effect on how couples partition housework. Those couples making the transition from cohabitation to marriage do not show significant changes in housework arrangements from those couples who remain cohabiting in both waves. On the other hand, becoming parents does lead to a more traditional division of household labour whilst controlling for socio-economic factors which accompany the move to parenthood. There is then some evidence that couples use the site of household labour to ‘do parenthood’ and generate identities which both use and inform socially prescribed notions of what it means to be a mother and a father. Support for socio-economic explanations of the division of household labour was mixed although it remains clear that they, alone, cannot explain how households divide housework.