Examples of Good Write-Ups:


Example 1.

In "TGPR: Its Rise & Fall" Jessie Bernard asserts that the division of labor along gender lines in the early nineteenth century culminated in the emergence of the paradigmatic "traditional" family. According to this model, the male head of household (husband-father) was to be the primary wage earner. In fact, a "good provider" was a man whose earnings were sufficient to provide for the needs of the entire family. Children were able to pursue an education and activities pertaining to a newly acknowledged period of development known as "childhood." Women in these households (wife-mothers) limited their activities to domestic affairs and child rearing. Bernard argues that this gender-typed "good provider role" has diminished significantly, due to the influx of married women into the labor force. She write, "The good provider role may be on its way out, but its legitimate successor has not yet appeared on the scene," demonstrating her emphasis on developing new perspectives with which to understand the family and the numerous psycho-social determinants of the dynamics of family structure.


Labor statistics do reveal trends initially supportive of Bernard's thesis. From 1950 to 1990, the proportion of men in the labor forced decreased 9.4%, couples with a 28.8% increase of women who were in the labor force, suggesting a challenge to the traditional ideal of men working outside the home and women being relegated to domestic duties only. This is not to say that the challenge is for primacy of wage-earner status, but for a less gender-tempered system of assigning who (or what) constitutes a provider. However, in 1990 just over 1.5 times as many women as men were not in the labor force. While this figure represents a 26.8% decline in women who are not in the labor force, there is still a substantial segment of women who are "at home."


Limiting our discussion to the above data, we cannot fully refute nor substantiate Bernard's argument. The share of women involved in the labor force has increased, and all indicators point toward this trend continuing. However, this data does not suggest the "extinction" of a form of family life as much as it does a transition. The "good provider role" in its deepest ideological sense, essentially, is dead. A host of psychosocial factors have rendered the "traditional" means of understanding family structure obsolete.



Example 2.

It is evident that today, many more women are participants in the labor force today than were 30 to 40 years ago. Jessie Bernard, in her article "TGPR: Its Rise and Fall," clearly demonstrates this concept by exploring how the "traditional" American family functioned. The father was the financial support of the home, whereas the mother provided the emotional support for the family. Bernard further elaborates by explaining how the male was expected to be a "good" provider: this clearly defined a man's overall worth by what he earned at the end of the week. Bernard's article illustrates how the man's role as a good or even an adequate provider is and has been diminishing in recent decades. This is largely due to the increase of women's participation in the labor force, as is also apparent in our data on the labor force participation of men and women in the United States from 1950 to 1990.

From our data we see that the percent of women employed in 1990 is almost double the percent of women who were employed in 1950. Only about 29% of women were employed in 1950, while about 70% were not in the labor force. This clearly suggests the existence of the traditional family, where most women worked inside the home and relied primarily on their spouse for economic support. However, we see over the last four decades that this pattern has changed. Now more women participate in the labor force, with over 50% of women being employed as of 1990. It is interesting to note that the percent of men who are not in the labor force has increased during this time.

The data supports Bernard's argument that the male is no longer the sole provider, and that the "good provider" has become extinct. There are various reasons why more women are in the labor force now than ever before. For examples, many families need two incomes to support a household. In any case, it is evident that women are working, and thus providing for themselves and their families to a much greater extent than before. Obviously, families still exist where the husband/father provides all financial support. However, it is much less common than before and it hopefully does not stunt the other abilities and qualities of men and women the way that the "good provider" role once did.


Example 3:

What does it mean to be a good provider? Well, in today's fast changing times, the notion of a "good provider" has probably changed from that of Jessie Bernard's definition. Bernard states that a "good provider" is a male who is the primary financial contributor to the household, allowing a wife to stay at home and not work. Today, one may define a "good provider" as someone -- be it male or female -- able to "provide" overall well being for their family, including emotional as well as financial support.

Bernard argues that the role of the good provider is diminishing because of the influx of women into the work force. Although there was an increase in the share of women who were in the labor force from 1950 to 1990, there is still a significant proportion of women not in the labor force. In fact, more than 50% of women were not employed outside the home as of 1980. According to the data in Table 1, we do see a rise in the proportion of women in the labor force, from 28.8% of women in 1950 to 53.2% in 1990. I don't feel that this is the sole variable affecting the diminution in the role of the good provider. If we review the data, we see that as women were increasing their presence in the labor force, men's presence in the labor force was declining. In 1950, 18% of men were not in the labor force, but as of 1990 26% of men were not in the labor force.

After reading Bernard's article and analyzing the data, I do not completely agree with her argument that the role of the good provider is diminishing simply due to the increase of women in the labor force. Although the data does support the finding of women's increasing presence in the work place, it does not support Bernard's theory. Bernard examined families from 1840 to 1970. Therefore, I cannot agree with Bernard, because the largest increase of women in the labor force occurred between 1970 and 1990. In addition, my opposition to Bernard's theory directly relates to the fact that being a good sociologist, I have to evaluate other factors that would justify the decline of the good provider role, including such elements as changes in family obligations, growing acceptance of a wider variety of emotional feelings regarding men's roles, as well as a rise in women's independence. Therefore, to conclude I did find Bernard's article to be interesting, however I must disagree with her argument.