The Gendered Division of Household Labor

Oriel Sullivan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

17 Scopus citations


In this chapter I first define, and then examine the origins of research into, the gendered division of household labor and care. I outline the main theoretical approaches, finishing with the development of multi-level theoretical frameworks that connect the institutional and interactional levels of the gendered construction of labor and care. I follow the logic of these models to describe current configurations and trends. I focus on the factors identified by successive decade reviews as being the most important influences on the gendered division of household labor and care, and describe spousal resources and educational level as examples of individual-level influences. I then discuss cross-national trends in relation to institutional-level policy contexts, comparing evidence for and against the idea of a recent ‘stall’ in progress towards gender equality. I conclude by arguing that it is important to recognize the processes of progressive change that are at work, in order to continue to press for movement in the direction of greater equality. I outline the most significant barriers that need addressing, emphasizing in particular the persistency of traditional masculinities, and policy directions that fail to address the need for a better work-life balance for both women and men.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbooks of Sociology and Social Research
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media B.V.
Number of pages16
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameHandbooks of Sociology and Social Research
ISSN (Print)1389-6903
ISSN (Electronic)2542-839X


  • Domestic division of labor
  • Gender convergence
  • Housework and care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Social Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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