Karen J. Prager, Ph.D., A.B.P.P.
Professor of Psychology and Program Head for Gender Studies
Diplomate in Family Psychology
The University of Texas at Dallas
More Information About Dr. Prager's work
Gender, Power, & Equality in Marriage
What is power?
*Being able to carry out one's own agenda despite resistance
*Ability to affect others' outcomes
3 sources of power
*Maleness as a resource ("Legitimate power")
Depends upon NORMATIVE POWER SOURCE
Normative power source varies among cultures
Patriarchy: Males SPECIFICALLY have power.
Modified patriarchy: Patriarchy only in lower SES groups.
Transitional egalitarianism: No clear message. More resources = more power (U.S.).
Egalitarianism: Power is SPECIFICALLY shared.
*Reward & expert power: Power through access to resources: Power through access to resources
*Resources are universalistic or particularistic
*Husbands may have more universalistic resources
*Process power: Power emerges through communication styles
*Controlling the discussion
*Who gets ignored
*Power through influence strategies
Types of influence strategies
**Indirect vs. direct: Hinting, being nice, pouting, etc. vs. asking, telling, talking.
**Bilateral vs. unilateral: strategies involving both partners (e.g. persuasion, bargaining) vs. those requiring only one (withdrawing, each doing what he/she wants)
trying to make one's partner feel guilty
leaving the scene
reminding of past favors
claiming greater knowledge
offering to compromise
offering a trade-off
Historical Perspective: The Division of Labor
Comparisons across centuries in America
No home--workplace separation
Everyone worked, children included
Household is unit of society, not individual
Children need full-time mothering & protection: child labor laws (children were an economic liability)
Womens work includes protecting children
3. The privatized family
Ideology/expectations about family changed
Consequence of denial: Separate spheresintimacy
What predicted shared power (shared decision-making and division of labor) at the end of the 20th century?
Best predictor: perceived importance of wifes career
Decision-making -- What predicts relationship satisfaction?
Use of reasoning, compromise, good listening skills
Direct & positive correlation, in most studies, between husbands’ participation in household work (sometimes, housework, sometimes child-care) and wives’ well-being and freedom from stress/depressive symptoms.
Steil’s & Turetsky’s 1984 study:
Compared 4 groups of couples
1. Employed husbands without children
2. Employed wives without children
3. Employed mothers
4. Employed fathers
Husbands without children: little relationship between marital influence & well-being. The more husbands shared housework in these couples, the less dysphoria they reported.
Stats: the division of labor in marriage
Marital equality, satisfaction and well-being
1. More equality = more satisfaction in both partners.
2. More equality = better health, well-being for wives.
Explanations: Why does inequality persist?
1. Wives have more time than husbands?
2. Wives have less influence because they earn less?
3. Attitudes and social constructions support inequality?
Wives' incomes are secondary?
Husbands will suffer if wives earn more?
Husbands are defined as "providers" with associated privileges?
Women lack feelings of entitlement?
Women and men perceive equality to benefit women more than men? Yet women often do not push for equality.