On discourse and dirty nappies: gender, the division of household labour and the social psychology of distributive justice

Dixon, John and Wetherell, Margaret (2004). On discourse and dirty nappies: gender, the division of household labour and the social psychology of distributive justice. Theory and Psychology, 14(2) pp. 167–189.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0959354304042015

Abstract

This article evaluates recent developments in research on the domestic division of labour. It focuses on the Distributive Justice Framework developed by Thompson (1991) in an extension of Major's (1987) work on the psychology of entitlement. This framework states that in order to explain the persistence of gender inequalities in domestic labour, researchers must consider the factors that determine women's sense of fairness in close relationships. Whilst acknowledging its contribution to the field, the article argues that existing work on the Distributive Justice Framework has misconceived important aspects of the social psychology of distributive justice. By way of contrast, an approach is advanced that is grounded in the analysis of everyday discursive practices in the home-the practices through which couples define their contributions to household labour and negotiate ideological dilemmas about gender, entitlement and fair shares. We argue that investigations of gender inequalities in domestic labour can benefit from the new directions provided by social constructionism, as well as the more complex views of subjectivity, power and social interaction that are now emerging in psychology.

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