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Gender inequality in long-term marriages : Negotiation and renegotiation of gendered responsibilities by married couples aged 50-70

Mason, Jennifer (1987) Gender inequality in long-term marriages : Negotiation and renegotiation of gendered responsibilities by married couples aged 50-70. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86259) (KAR id:86259)


This thesis adopts the kind of perspective which investigates inequality in the 'personal' sphere of marriage by reference to links between the interpersonal and structural or patterned inequalities. It is based on a study of 18 couples aged between 50 and 70 who are in the process of negotiating various transitions in their lives. These have a disruptive potential for the ways in which inequality has been observed to be constructed in younger marriages, and form the focus for a discussion about negotiations and renegotiations of gender inequalities. Gendered responsibility is identified as the crucial structuring component of gender inequality. It involves women's servicing of, caring for, and maintenance of the wellbeing of their husbands and families, and men's provision and protection for their families. Negotiations in the lives of the couples, although producing meaningful changes in gender divisions, did not challenge the relations of gendered responsibilities and hence did not overcome inequality. In fact, those responsibilities gained a new significance and priority in the light of the life course positions of the couples in the study . The couples were found to be making sense of the social material which formed the context of their 'private' lives through various common sense ideologies. These ideologies helped to create an aura of inevitability and immutability about gendered responsibilities and helped to preclude their renegotiation. Essentially, these helped to sustain a taken—for granted fabric of married life, encompassing a particular kind of gender division whose consequence was gender inequality.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86259
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: Gender inequality in marriage
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:38 UTC
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2022 11:48 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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