Ideology, Power, and Equity Testing Competing Explanations for the Perception of Fairness in Household Labor

DeMaris, Alfred; Longmore, Monica A.
March 1996
Social Forces;Mar96, Vol. 74 Issue 3, p1043
Academic Journal
Previous explanations of couples' tendency to see their household division of labor as fair primarily support the influence of three factors, net of partners' actual contributions to "female-typed" housework. The three are partners' adherence to a traditional gender role ideology, wives' limited alternatives to the marriage, and equity across key domains of the relationship. Using responses from 2,109 male and 2,096 female marital partners from the National Survey of Families and Households 1987-88, we examine the relative efficacy of these factors in accounting for variation in the perception that housework is unfair to the wife. We find most support for the effect of ideology and considerations of equity and relatively little for wives' alternatives, at least when the latter are measured by wives' general human capital. The findings suggest ways in which partners' negotiations are constrained by gender role beliefs.


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