Marriage through the sociology conflict theory?
I am having a hard time understanding how to apply the conflict theory to marriage. I understand the symbolic interactionism theory in application to marriage, as well as the functionalism theory, but conflict always gets me. Anyone able to help me out?
1. It is typically framed in terms of gender inequality. Based on a famous essay by Friedrich Engels (friend and benefactor of Karl Marx), marriage is seen as a way of controlling women. This works on the institutional level in that norms and laws about marriage are used to regulate the sexual behavior of women by making them property of men. Recall that it is normative in our society for the woman to take the man's surname--not the other way around.
Within the family itself, women are seen to be oppressed in that they are given primary care of children at the expense of earning potential. Women also do most of the housework. The activities of women are generally tightly regulated to gender specific work.
This conception of the family is generally seen as out-dated in today's world, as gender norms have become much more egalitarian, and institutional norms are beginning to go the same way. However, some inequalities doubtless still exist in some families.
I hope that helps.
2. look to the concepts and the focus of the conflict perspective:
inequality ; power; exploitation; oppression. appropriation of resources; culture as ideological control/hegemonic power
- the connections between the broader social structures and sets of cultural values
-the contradictions of these wider factors
-the connections between these contradictions and the individual stresses at the day to day level of living
So the conflict theorists tend to ask questions about:
1. the unpaid caring labour of women/how the structurend ideology of our current family system underpins this widespread form of exploitation and why it is women who are most at risk of being exploited in this way
2. the ways that women's careers are interrupted by family repsonsibilities just at the time usually five to ten years in the job, when career promotion occurs
3. issues of domestic violence; its gendered nature; the way that the ideology and structure of modern of family life tend to protect the violent person and to mask the level of violence -
4.why heterosexual partnerships are privileged over Gay partnerships ... from marriage policies to adoption policies
5. the contradiction between our wider cultural vaues of equality of opportunity and the limits that our current marriage system places on this 'ideal'
6. look through those concepts and focus and see if you can develop further sets of research questions eg about the relationship between
-children and parents
-the interractions between parents and grandparents
-the life of the single aged person
-the famiy and the wider community/
-the media and advertising industry's exploitation of the ideology of the family to encourage unnecessary consumerism