Construction Of Gender And Household Chores
This work is about the Yoruba construction of gender and household chores, how the Yoruba share the chores within the house; by gender or age, to ascertain if the construction of gender of the Yoruba people is related to the way they allocate chores within the household. Social construction is an invention of the society and it is expected that the Yoruba people have such in relation to gender and household chores. A qualitative research with the aid of in-depth interview, key informant interview and focus group discussion was carried out. Content analysis and ethnographic summary was used to analyze the work.
It was found that the Yoruba do not really have a basic construction of gender because their believe centers around seniority instead. Household chores, according to my research, are mostly allocated based on age rather than gender but sometimes it is based on both. These days, children do not do chores again, the domestic help does them. The Yoruba people allocate chores to their children to train them in handling responsibilities. It is suggested that parents should keep the culture of the Yoruba alive by still allocating chores to their children. This was a research conducted among the Yoruba people of some local government areas in Lagos state, it might not apply to all Yoruba people because even among the Yoruba there are different cultures and the fact that it was carried out in an urban center.
Background Of Study
A social construction (also called a social construct) is a concept or practice that is the construct (or artifact) of a particular group (Hacking, 1999). When we say that something is socially constructed, we are focusing on its dependence on contingent variables of our social selves rather than any inherent quality that it possesses in itself. It is to say: This thing could not have existed had we not built it; and we need not have built it at all, at least not in its present form. Had we been a different kind of society, had we had different needs, values, or interests, we might well have built a different kind of thing, or built this one differently. The inevitable contrast is with a naturally existing object, something that exists independently of us and which we did not have a hand in shaping. There are certainly many things, and facts about them, that are socially constructed in the sense specified by this core idea: money, citizenship and newspapers, for example. None of these things could have existed without society; and each of them could have been constructed differently had we so chosen (Boghossian, 2006). Social construction talk is often applied not only to worldly items – things, kinds and facts – but to our beliefs about them (Hacking, 1999).
Harvard psychologist Pinker (2002) writes that “some categories really are social constructions: they exist only because people tacitly agree to act as if they exist. Examples include money, tenure, citizenship, decorations for bravery, and the presidency of the United States.” Social constructionism moves away from socialization as the origin of gender differences; people do not merely internalize gender roles as they grow up but they respond to changing norms in the society. As our culture changes, so do our constructs. Some constructs come into being and then fall into disuse and thus go out of existence. Others remain but change from one culture and historical period to another (Pinker, 2002). Gender is one such construct. The traits and behaviors that are thought to be “masculine” and “feminine” differ dramatically from one culture and time period to another. For example, in Europe, during the Middle Ages, women were commonly associated with roles related to medicine and healing. Due to the rise of witch-hunts across Europe and the institutionalization of medicine, these roles eventually came to be monopolized by men (Ehrenreich and Deirdre; 2010). In the last few decades, however, these roles have become largely gender-neutral in Western society (Boulis and Jacobs; 2010).
Children learn to categorize themselves by gender very early on in life. A part of this is learning how to display and perform gendered identities as masculine or feminine. Boys learn to manipulate their physical and social environment through physical strength or other skills, while girls learn to present themselves as objects to be viewed. Children monitor their own and others’ gendered behaviour. Gender-segregated children’s activities create the appearance that gender differences in behaviour reflect an essential nature of male and female behavior (Fenstermaker and West, 2002). The intent is not to insist on the obvious fact that certain women come to be refugees as a consequence of social events rather, the idea is to expose the way in which a particular belief has been shaped by social forces: the belief that there is a particular kind of person – the woman refugee – deserving of being singled out for special attention (Moussa, 1992).
Butler (2007) contends that being female is not “natural” and that it appears natural only through repeated performances of gender; these gender performances in turn, reproduce and define the traditional categories of sex and or gender. A social constructionist view looks beyond categories and examines the intersection of multiple identities, the blurring of the boundaries of essentialist categories. Thus a claim that gender is socially constructed probably means that gender, as currently understood, is not an inevitable result of biology, but highly contingent on social and historical processes. In addition, depending on who is making the claim, it may mean that our current understanding of gender is harmful, and should be modified or eliminated, to the extent possible.
Hacking (1999), claims that social constructions are not always clear about exactly what isn’t inevitable, or exactly what should be done away with. Consider a hypothetical claim that quarks are “socially constructed”. On one reading, this means that quarks themselves are not “inevitable” or “determined by the nature of things.” On another reading, this means that our idea (or conceptualization, or understanding) of quarks is not inevitable or determined by the nature of things. The distinction between “quarks themselves” and “our idea (or conceptualization, or understanding) of quarks” will undoubtedly troublesome with a philosophical bent. Hacking’s distinction is based on an intuitive metaphysics, with a split between things out in the world, on one hand, and ideas thereof in our minds, on the other. Hacking is less advocating a serious, particular metaphysics than suggesting a useful way to analyze claims about “social construction”.
Hacking (1999) is much more sympathetic to the second reading than the first. Furthermore, he argues that, if the second reading is taken, there need not always be a conflict between saying that quarks are “socially constructed” and saying that they are “real”. In our gender example, this means that while a legitimate biological basis for gender may exist, some of society’s perceptions of gender may be socially constructed. It is crucial, therefore, to distinguish between a constructionist claim that’s directed at things and facts, on the one hand, and one that’s directed at beliefs on the other, for they are distinct sorts of claim and require distinct forms of vindication (Boghassian, 2006).
1.1 Statement Of Problem
An enormous amount of work in the humanities and social sciences is organized around the idea that phenomena are “socially constructed.” Things as diverse as quarks and wife abuse are said to be socially constructed, and constructionist positions figure prominently in discussions of race, gender, sexual orientation, emotions, and mental illness. What’s more, important consequences are said to stem from such social construction – consequences that are to shape research in the humanities and social sciences as well as public policy and social movements (Mallon 2007).
A social construction is something that doesn’t exist independently in the “natural” world, but is instead an invention of society. Cultural practices and norms give rise to the existence of social constructs and govern the practices, customs, and rules concerning the way we use or view or understand them. In other words, we all act as if they exist, and because of our inter-subjective agreement, they do. Society’s construction of gender varies according to culture. For instance, in a society it may be the duty or role of the man (male) to fend for the family, that is, he will work outside the home while the woman is to work within the home doing domestic chores and it will be frowned upon if it were done differently.
In another society it may be accepted that the man will be the one at home to tend to domestic chores while the woman goes outside the home to work. There are claims that husbands do no more work than in the past, despite the change in women’s economic provider roles, and that women continue to be burdened by the ‘second shift’(Hochschild 1989). At the same time, there are competing claims that men are beginning to do more housework and that, as the market work, gender differentials in household chores are narrowing and becoming much less gender-typed (Gershuny and Robinson 1988).
Housework is contested terrain, household members need to eat, their laundry must get cleaned, and living quarters must be straightened and cleaned from time to time. Individuals who live together must set standards for cleanliness and food preparation that will be tolerated and then depend on someone to do the work of providing meals, cleaning clothes, and maintaining a livable home. Much of that provision can be outsourced to non-household members, through take-out and restaurant meals, commercial laundries, and cleaning services. Most households do not have the resources or the desire to purchase all household goods and services outside the home. Hence, getting household chores done involves cooperation, negotiation, and conflict among household members, usually requiring consensus but also generating potential resentments and disagreement among those who live together. (DeVault, 1991; Oropesa, 1993). The essence of this research therefore is to examine how the Yoruba ethnic group construct their gender and household chores. The following research questions are pertinent in discovering the answers to the underlying issue.
1.2 Research Questions
In the course of pondering this problem, some questions come up, questions that need answers. Such questions include:
- Who determines chores allocation in the Yoruba household?
- What are the most common determinants of household chores allocation?
- Is Yoruba construction of gender related to the way household chores are allocated in a Yoruba household?
- What are the effects of modernity on allocation of household chores in a Yoruba household?
1.3 Objectives Of Study
In this research, there are some objectives that will guide the researcher in the course of the study. These are some of the aims of the study:
- To examine the relationship between household chores allocation and the Yoruba culture
- To determine if past household chores allocation is same as the present household chores allocation
- To ascertain the effect of modernity on gender and household chores allocation
- To determine if Yoruba construction of gender influences the construction of household chores
1.4 Significance Of Study
The purpose of all research works is to contribute to literary knowledge. Though there have been various works done on social construction of gender, lots of work done on gender and household chores, this study will also contribute to knowledge by examining the social construction of gender among the Yoruba and how this construction influences their allocation of chores in the household.
The study will also a provide a framework for policy formulation which will provide a plain ground for equity between men and women especially in the household pertaining to construction of gender and household chores.
1.5 Scope And Delimitation Of The Study
This study is restricted to the residents of Surulere Local Government Area (LGA) in Lagos State. This research will not be done outside the boundaries of Surulere LGA. There are two constituencies in Surulere LGA, each constituency has various wards and each ward has representatives. One or two of these wards would be selected for this study. The population of Surulere is about 504,000 with the population density of about 22,000 people per square kilometer. The area total is 23 kilometer square or 9 square meter (Surulere Local Government, 2013).
For the purpose of this study, a number of households in Surulere LGA will be examined to determine the degree of relevance of social construction of gender to the construction and allocation of household chores. Household here refers to a group of people sharing a home or living space who aggregate and share their incomes as evidenced by the fact that they regularly take meals together. Most households consist of one person living alone, a nuclear family, an extended family or a group of unrelated people (Oxford Dictionary of Sociology; 2005).
1.6 Definition Of Terms
1.6.1 Social Construction
A social construction is something that does not exist, this means its definition, use, meaning, value, is entirely contingent on culture. Social constructs are generally understood to be by-products of countless human choices rather than laws resulting from divine will or nature. Social construction talk is often applied not only to worldly items – things, kinds and facts – but to our beliefs about them (Hacking; 1999).
Gender is simply the fact of being male or female. Gender refers to the biological division into male and female; “gender” to the parallel and socially unequal division into femininity and masculinity (Oakley 2000). Gender is used to describe the characteristics, roles and responsibilities of women and men, boys and girls, which are socially created. World Health Organization (2012) defines gender as the result of socially constructed ideas about the behavior, actions and roles a particular sex performs.
A household refers to all the people who live together in one house or relating to looking after a house and the people in it (Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English; 2003). It is a group of people sharing a home or living space who aggregate and share their incomes as evidenced by the fact that they regularly take meals together. A household consists of one or more people who live in the same dwelling and also share meals or living accommodations and may consist of a single family or some other grouping of people (Haviland 2003).
1.6.4 Household Chores or Housework
Housework is that which one does to take care of a house. For example, dusting, sweeping, scrubbing, and washing, and so on (Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English: 2003). A chore refers to a routine task, especially a household one (Oxford Dictionaries, 2014).
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