Understanding society: Families
Understanding society: Families

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Understanding society: Families

Understanding society: Families


Family life is continuously changing in many ways. This course looks at the change, or lack of change, in the role of women and men in the home. The discussion of this topic will focus on the connectedness between women’s work in the paid labour force and their work in the home. In addition, underlying this will be our recognition that family life today is characterised by diversity.

The main question we will be addressing is who does the work in the home? More specifically we want to look at how men and women in the UK share the shopping, cooking, cleaning, washing and ironing that happens regularly in all families. Of course other work takes place in the home, not least caring for children and other dependents and less regular and non routine house maintenance and DIY work. However, our focus here is a more limited one which will nevertheless introduce you to some of the key ideas and debates involved in studying family life.

We will begin with a summary of how work in the home has changed over the last fifty years or so, and look at the situation now, at the start of the twenty first century. You will also be given the opportunity to explore how different families may have different ideas about how work should be divided up.

The course concludes with an investigation into family diversity and note that any discussion of the division of labour has to recognise that families differ in terms of shape and size.

This OpenLearn course provides a sample of level 1 study in Education, Childhood & Youth [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

Skip Your course resources

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371