Maybe it has to be stressed that it is not a linguistic trick to translate women's oppression into influence and power. This question is of fundamental importance. If there is no grain of influence or power bestowed on women, and male power is viewed as all-embracing, the gender-power approach itself becomes analytically ineffective. This assumption also means that women are without means to influence the evolving trends we now witness. The patterns we have depicted are based on interviews with people with healthcare occupations. However, they are by no means specific to these groups. Similar trends are found in all classes, as indicated by my Icelandic study on men on paternity leave. Nevertheless, further research is needed in order to better understand the impact of class positions and how the interaction of spouses can be conceptualized against a background of class-based resources.
This chapter has attempted to introduce new paths in the discourse of family interaction. The discussion implies that well-known patterns of sharing household tasks, parental leave, and such detachable matters, can be taken a step further and scrutinized in terms of the logic, or spirit, of interaction. By this we are trying to come to grips with a whole that is more than the sum of its parts. We have seen different configurations emerging from the same or similar patterns of division of housework. The importance of this new approach may be symbolically demonstrated by the position of Anna and Christer's interaction. Ironically, they probably represent the most “equal” couple of all in our examples, in terms of quantitative contributions. But their “equality” is realized in “the worst of worlds”: they are running a household with an “empty” inner core, and with their “real” lives located outside the home.