Second Shift and Working Mothers Research Paper

Pages: 10 (3705 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Family and Marriage

Working Wives and Mothers: How Their Work Puts Strains in Their Marriage and Children

There has been a significant increase in the percentage of women who are taking part in the workforce in the last half century. Today more and more equality is being gained by the women in political, social and economic affairs however, when it comes to the household labor and its division, the inequity of gender is still there like it has always been. The children and household is still the primary responsibility of the women. This condition of a lot of women today has been described in the concept of "second shift" by Arlie Russell Hochschild. All the work that the women have to do once they get back home from work in order to maintain their house and take care of the children has been called the "second shift." A lot of attention has been paid by the feminist scientists and sociologists regarding the division of labor in the house with regards to the gender along with the psychological as well as emotional effects that this "second shift" has on the women and mothers who work. The studies that have been done on this topic have been summarized in this paper along with the implications associated with all these studies.


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In the past century or so there has been significant increase in the number of women who have started to work outside of their homes but it is amazing to see that still when it comes to the household stuff and taking care of the children, the studies have shown that even today it is considered to be the responsibility of the women. The Second Shift is a book that was written in 1989 by Arlie Russell Hochschild, who was a sociologist. This book is a very important source not only on the occurrence but also on the impact that this phenomenon has. Even though it has been many years since this book was published but this issue of inequality between the male and female when it comes to work in the home is still a great matter with regards to the society.

Research Paper on Second Shift and Working Mothers Assignment

It was found by Hochschild that is the homes where both the parents had jobs the women worked approximately 15 hours more as compared to the man each week since she had to do the household chores as well. In light of this statistic, in 1989, an extra month that consisted of 24-hour days was worked by working mother (Hochschild 1989:3). According to a recent study the number of hours that a woman works each week doing the household chores on average is 27 while the average for men is 11 hours a week. This huge amount of time spent by women doing their household chores and looking after the children after they have worked outside of the house has been called as the "second shift" for these women by Hochschild (4).

Although equality today is being gained by the women when it comes to the workplace but when it comes to the work that needs to be done within the house their exists still a great deal of gender inequality as, it's the females who are, even today, expected to do the household chores. A lot of pressure is felt by the women regarding the maintenance of orderly and clean homes as well as to make a lot of efforts with regards to the activities at the school as well as the home in order to show that they are involved in the lives of their children and that they are dedicated to their families. Pressure is also felt by these women to not only be a success at their work but at the same time remain beautiful and fit.

It is very hard for the working women to fulfill all of these expectations of the people. Therefore, often times the psychological and physical health of these women gets affected due to the amount of energy and time that is required by them to perform their "second shift" when they get home from work. It has also been noticed that many women start to feel like a failure as; they feel that they are not fulfilling the expectation of the society to be a super mom and wife and be amazing at their job as well.

A Deeper Understanding of the "Second Shift" and its Effects of Working Mothers

The relationship which exists between the division of gender and household labor as a social stratification category can be explained in the gender-family nexus's concept. The definition of the gender-family nexus is that, "it's the continuous interaction between the most persuasive and oldest kind of stratification in the world, gender, and it is also one of the most persistent and oldest institutions within the world, family." The gender-family nexus is a continuous process in which family and gender play a part in shaping each other: gender itself defines and is also defined by and within the family institution. The shapers and the social life of a personhood are permeated by the gender-family nexus.

Socialization of the women and men, within the family, takes place in order for them to perform the femininity and masculinity, respectively, and in this way these behaviors become a very intimate part of the identities of people. Heterosexual imaginary has a deep connection with the gender-family nexus. Ongoing work is involved in it. It not only affects but also gets affected from the types of stratification as well as other institutions (Niebrugge-Brantley 2008).

Gender is a status itself and the other statuses such as father, husband, wife and mother are gendered too. Complementary and particular roles are entailed by the statuses of "man" and "women." Emotional and passive is the expected role of the women while the men are expected to be intellectual and active. Although these roles complement one another but they are valued differently. A higher degree of the social prestige, privilege and power is received by the status-role of "man" as well as the other male gendered status-roles in comparison to the roles which are considered to belong to the females. Complementary roles are entailed by the gendered statuses which are present in the family as well like "father" and "mother." It is the role of the father to guide the children morally, give them economic support, to be a positive male model for the children and to make sure they have access to the social networks (Coltrane 2007:452).

It is the role of a mother to feed and clean her children, to make sure that the house is clean and that the kids are being given moral guidance and love. It is considered to be the role of a woman to look after the house and children. These tasks aren't considered by the fathers and husbands to be their responsibilities even in the scenarios when the females of the house aren't able to do all these things. The female and male point-of-view when it comes to the housework has been explained by Arlie Russell Hochschild, according to her the way that a male sees housework is as something that a person will or will not do and as something that can be helped with if the task seems interesting. Whereas, the way a female looks at housework is as something that has to be done. (1989:53).

The way that the roles of men and women are valued in such different ways is obvious in the "second shift" as well. The growth of "second shift" occurred parallel to the increase in the number of women who started performing the roles which are traditionally though to be for the men such as working out of the homes. This was done by the women in order to get social prestige, economic advantage and feeling worthy of something. This continued gendered labor inequality which is present in the homes in part due to the unwillingness of the men to take part in the roles that have so little worth and which they feel are the responsibility of the women, along with the fact that they feel that doing such household chores would make them feel "emasculated." An example of this phenomenon can be taken from the Second Shift as well, in which the household labor division between Evan and Nancy has been described by Hoshchild. Evan and Nancy are full-time working parents of one child and when it came to sharing the household with the wife he refused to do any such thing as, he felt that this wasn't his responsibility and that he can refuse at any time to do some task which is his wife's responsibility to begin with (Hochschild 1990:40).

A family, if looked at from the structural-functionalist point-of-view is an institution: a system which has interrelated status-roles, sanctions and norms which are there to satisfy the primal social need/needs (Niebrugge-Brantley 2008). Within a contemporary American society a family consists of the gendered status-roles… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Second Shift and Working Mothers" Research Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Second Shift and Working Mothers.  (2014, April 23).  Retrieved September 27, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Second Shift and Working Mothers."  23 April 2014.  Web.  27 September 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Second Shift and Working Mothers."  April 23, 2014.  Accessed September 27, 2020.