You are in an archived section of the AIFS website. Archived publications may be of interest for historical reasons. Because of their age, they may not reflect current research data or AIFS' current research methodologies.

Family Matters No. 50 - June 1998

Changing Family Responsibilities

The role of social attitudes, markets and the state
Michael Bittman

Abstract

Despite an attempt to renegotiate the division of labour in the home over the past twenty years, family responsibilities still fall disproportionately on women. This paper illustrates the flow of social exchanges between the family and the market and the family and the state, particularly in relation to some aspects of domestic labour. The author examines how family responsibilities affect the life changes of men and women and determines that family responsibilities do not harm the careers of men but have a negative impact on those of women. He questions how to best bring about a change in this situation and discusses the following means of altering the undesirable effects of family responsibilities: renegotiating responsibilities within households leading to a more equitable division of labour between men and women; outsourcing some of the domestic labour to the marketplace, thereby reducing the burden of unpaid work faced by women; and the state absorbing some of the responsibilities formerly performed by households, such as government sponsored child care centres.

Despite an attempt to renegotiate the division of labour in the home over the past twenty years, family responsibilities still fall disproportionately on women. This paper illustrates the flow of social exchanges between the family and the market and the family and the state, particularly in relation to some aspects of domestic labour. The author examines how family responsibilities affect the life changes of men and women and determines that family responsibilities do not harm the careers of men but have a negative impact on those of women. He questions how to best bring about a change in this situation and discusses the following means of altering the undesirable effects of family responsibilities: renegotiating responsibilities within households leading to a more equitable division of labour between men and women; outsourcing some of the domestic labour to the marketplace, thereby reducing the burden of unpaid work faced by women; and the state absorbing some of the responsibilities formerly performed by households, such as government sponsored child care centres.

You are in an archived section of the Australian Institute of Family Studies website. Articles in this issue of Family Matters are only available as PDF documents and do not meet the latest web accessibility standards. If you are unable to access any of the articles in this issue of Family Matters please contact us and we will endeavour to provide the article/s you need in a format that you can use.