Bargaining over Housework: The Frustrating Situation of Secondary Wage Earners

By Parkman, Allen M. | The American Journal of Economics and Sociology, October 2004 | Go to article overview

Bargaining over Housework: The Frustrating Situation of Secondary Wage Earners


Parkman, Allen M., The American Journal of Economics and Sociology


I

Introduction

AS MARRIED WOMEN HAVE ENTERED THE LABOR FORCE, their husbands have not assumed commensurate responsibilities in the home (Robinson and Godbey 1997; Bianchi, Milkie, Sayer, and Robinson 2000). The result has been the notorious "second shift" for married women (Hochschild and Machung 1989). Moreover, most men and women rate this arrangement as fair (Lennon and Rosenfield 1994; Coltrane 2000). It has been difficult to explain the behavior of men and women toward housework using the same theory. Exchange theory provides an explanation for the housework decisions of married women, as they tend to work less in the home as their earnings increase relative to their spouse (Brines 1994). The explanation for the behavior of husbands tends to be more complicated, with support for a combination of theories based on exchange theory and gender ideology (Brines 1994; Greenstein 2000).

In this paper, it is argued that the behavior of both married men and women can be explained by integrating the commonly accepted theories of housework. These theories can be viewed as complementary rather than competing. Two theories that influence housework are introduced that have been ignored in the prior literature. First is the effect of the shift from fault to no-fault grounds for divorce. Second is the effect of net earnings rather than gross earnings on decisions within families. An understanding of these factors helps to explain the limited response by primary wage earners, usually husbands, to the employment of their spouses, usually wives, and why couples tend to feel that the allocation of housework is fair.

In the next section, the theoretical perspectives on housework are reviewed and then integrated, with a special emphasis on the influences of unilateral, no-fault divorce and net earnings on bargaining within families. This analysis is used to generate hypotheses that are tested using data from the National Survey of Families and Households. The empirical analysis provides support for explanations for the housework decisions of both men and women based on this integrated framework.

II

Theoretical Perspectives

THREE THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES ON THE ALLOCATION OF HOUSEWORK dominate the literature (Bianchi, Milkie, Sayer, and Robinson 2000; Greenstein 2000). The time availability and the relative resources perspectives are based on exchange or microeconomic theories, while the gender perspective has its roots in sociology. The time availability perspective suggests that housework is rationally allocated based on the time available to the spouses (Coverman 1985: England and Farkas 1986; Hiller 1984; Shelton 1992). The relative resources perspective proposes that the allocation of housework between men and women is based on resources that they bring to their marriage, with education and income being particularly important (Blair and Lichter 1991; Ferree 1991; Kamo 1988). The gender ideologies perspective argues that gender influences how men and women identify themselves with regard to marital and family roles that have traditionally been linked to gender (Ferree 1990; Greenstein 1996; South and Spitze 1994; West and Zimmerman 1987). Housework does not have a neutral meaning; its performance by men and women in households defines and expresses gender relationships. Gender is used to explain why women tend to do the tasks that traditionally have been thought of as "women's work" (e.g., cooking, laundry, housecleaning), while men have primarily done "male" tasks (e.g., yard work and automobile maintenance) (Blair and Lichter 1991; Hiller and Philliber 1986; Kamo 1988; Preset 1994). The work traditionally done by women has been identified as more routine, less autonomous, less fulfilling, and more isolated than men's (Ross and Wright 1998), usually lacking a leisure component, and its doer having less discretion in deciding when it is completed (Meissner 1977).

An Integrated Perspective

A closer review of the analysis of family production initialed by Becker (1973, 1974) suggests that these perspectives are complementary rather than competing. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Bargaining over Housework: The Frustrating Situation of Secondary Wage Earners
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.