Working Mothers Research Paper

Length: 10 pages Sources: 10 Subject: Family and Marriage Type: Research Paper Paper: #79307688 Related Topics: Working Class, Mother, Nuclear Family, Sociological Perspective
Excerpt from Research Paper :

) who complement one another in order to achieve functions of the family. In the opinion of Stephan Beach and Linda L. Lindsey, who are the authored, "Essentials of Sociology," reproduction, socialization, provision of protection, regulation of sexual behavior, companionship for the members of a society all comes under the functions of family along with the social placement (2003:290).

It is gender according to which the roles are divided in the family so that the family's functions could be achieved. Although, it is only the nuclear families for whom this gendered division of roles work, in case of the heterosexual couples along with their adopted or biological child/children it is the father who works outside the house while the mother is expected to take care of the house and children. There are a lot of people who find this ideal unattractive or impossible. In case of the homosexual couples, single-parent households, extended and blended families as well as the dual-earner families the "nuclear" model can't be applied and the gendered status-roles which are attached to it can cause problems as well.

The "second shift" is created in the nuclear family by the heterosexual imaginary along with the gendered division of roles that is idealized in it. The pervasiveness and its influence on the heterosexual imaginary is highlighted by the fact that even if a woman is working outside the home she will still have to be responsible for taking care of her children and her house. Role strain is experienced by the women who have to perform the household chores along with working outside the house. There is very little time for these women to relax as they have to do their household tasks and work outside of home as well and therefore, these women have very inflexible schedules.

A situation of the "second shift" has been created by the gendered structure of workplace and family in the opinion of the theorists. It was in the beginning of the 20th century that it was written by Marianne Weber that the capability of the women to get economic independence is what the emancipation of women is dependent upon however, it was recognized by her that the primary responsibilities of the women to care for their children and household restricts their ability to be successful like men in the job market (Lengermann and Niebrugge 1998:206). The concept of "domesticity" by Joan Williams explains the observation of Weber and the idea of nuclear family that has been discussed above.

"Domesticity" is basically a gender system; it is an organization of the family life and market work that is rooted very deeply in the heterosexual imaginary. Within this system complete dedication is given by the male ideal to the market while the care of the house as well as the children is the responsibility of the female in house. Financially, this female caregiver is dependent on the male ideal worker's support (Williams 2000:1). We can describe the phenomenon of "second shift" by considering it to be the symptom of the decline in the applicability of "domesticity" in the modern Western families in particular the dual-earner families. It has often been tried by the females to have it all but it is a fact that with working outside of house some changes have to be brought within the homes and this can only be done by the support and understanding of both the sexes.

There are a lot of pieces which have been made a part of this literature review in which the issue of unrealistic expectations has been addressed that how the image of beautiful, successful and satisfied working mothers has given rise to these unrealistic...


Even though today the number of women who have entered the workforce has increased significantly and is still increasing but no efforts have been made to bring about changes in the expectations that people have from the working women that they will be able to handle their household chores without any difficulty as well.

Constant efforts are being made by the working mothers and wives to achieve the impossible standards of being the best housewives and best at their jobs. These women suffer from anxiety, hopelessness, stress, depression, low self-esteem and guilt due to their constant efforts to be perfect in all the 3 roles of being a wife, worker and a mother and their failure in getting all these roles done perfectly (Allen & Quinn 1989; Burden 1986; Campbell & Moen 1992; Hochschild 1989; 2008; Keel et al. 1985; Kirk & Okazawa-Rey 2007; Westwood 2002).

It was discovered by Kandel et al. through their study that the working women felt that their own image and thoughts about themselves are greatly affected by the roles that they play in their homes and families. It was noted that high level of stress were suffered from by these women because of the fact that they weren't able to fulfill their roles of wives and mothers properly and they believe these roles to be the most important ones for themselves and their personalities (1985:74). It was also noted that when these women aren't able to fulfill their duties in the house and family they feel that they are failing as mothers and wives.

An absence of consciousness regarding the structural reasons for the struggles that working women go through have been noticed by the sociologists who studied stress and role-strain (Allen & Quinn 1989; Hochschild 1989; Keel et al. 1985; Westwood, 2002).When the working mothers aren't able to fulfill the expectations of the people around them they start to feel that the fault lies in them rather than the unfavorable social situation that they are in. This kind of self-blaming attitude gives rise to low self-esteem which the working mothers develop. As, the "second shift" isn't fulfilled by the working mothers their attitude becomes very resigned towards themselves and their conditions as well as the conditions of the women in general. Ann who was a working woman and was interviewed by Arlie Hochschild, expressed an example of this feeling in such a manner that she said, she felt infuriated with herself for being unable to stick to it (1989:106). She further said that, "I have two girls and it's really sad for me to know that they will not be able to contribute to anything until they don't fight against all the odds and at all the time. It doesn't really matter how driven or smart they are at the end of the day they will feel this same conflict as well"(109).

Theorists, by whom the gendered division of household has been studied, say that when it comes to the attitude regarding the housework there is a lot of difference in the way that the men behave to the household and the way that the women do. It's a general observation that in case of homes women are a lot more concerned about the cleanliness than the men. One of the reasons for this behavior of women towards clean house can be the socialization of the women for the status-roles of home-maker, wife and mother. From a very early age the women are trained to value the "tidiness" and "cleanliness" as they are being prepared to be the homemakers later on.

It was found in a study by Ogletree et al. that men usually reported "liking" the housekeeping a lot more as compared to the women whereas, it was further reported that in case of women they felt resentment and guilt when it comes to housework (2006). There are certain aspects of the household which can prove to be satisfying and enjoyable however, when a tasks needs to be done daily it can become boring, frustrating and repetitive. As it has been explained with the help of Hochschild's description above as well that when it comes to the household chores, the opinions of men and women are very different, men can avoid doing the housework if they don't feel like it or in case that they don't have the time however, in case of women this isn't true, women have a negative feel about the housework as, they don't have the choice of skipping it whether they have the time or not to do it and most of the times aren't appreciated for it either.

There have been a number of articles which have addressed the behaviors of the working-class women particularly with regards to the housework (Hochschild 1989; Looker & Thiessen 1999; Westwood, 2002). In all of these three articles the same observation was made regarding the specific mothers' population. Work has always been done by the poor women as well as the working class. Social prestige is not offered by the jobs that these women have access to for this reason the traditional roles of the woman in a home…

Sources Used in Documents:


Allen, Katherine R. And Peggy Quinn. 1989. Facing Challenges and Making Compromises: How Single Mothers Endure. Family Relations. 38(4):390-395.

Beach, Stephen, and Linda L. Lindsey. 2003. Essentials of Sociology. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Burden, Dianne S. 1986. Single Parents and the Work Setting: The Impact of Multiple Job and Homelife Responsibilities. Family Relations. 35(1):37-43.

Campbell, Marian L. And Phyllis Moen. 1992. Job-Family Role-Strain among Employed Single Mothers of Preschoolers. Family Relations. 41:205-213.

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