The distribution of attitudinal attachment to the male breadwinner role : a quantitative study of the Plymouth travel-to-work area
This thesis is concerned with men's attitudes towards the breadwinner role. A representative sample of 330 men, aged between 17 and 84, and drawn from the Plymouth Travel-To-Work Area, participated in the study by completing a postal questionnaire. The aim of the study was to explore attachment to the breadwinner role, and to discover if greater or lesser attachment exists among particular socio-demographic or socio-economic clusters. The quantitative approach and the application of a random sample distinguish this study from those in the literature concerned with 'men and masculinities'. The study applies an empirical perspective to overview the trajectory of the breadwinner family in Britain from the early industrial to the contemporary period. It is argued that although there have been peaks and troughs in the extent to which British families have been financially supported by a sole male provider, the breadwinner role continues to be an important ideological tool. It is suggested that the 'male as provider' doctrine shapes the internal dynamics of various familial arrangements. Only a handful of men are found to support a strict gender-coded division of labour in the household and labour market. The respondent's age is the strongest explanatory factor. Among those demonstrating lesser attachment, attitudes towards the breadwinner role are noted to be contextual and inconsistent. Greater support is also found for the traditional female role than the male role. It is argued that these findings represent new contributions to the debates. They are applied to challenge claims that the growth of the 'dual-earner' family has diminished the relevance of the breadwinner role in contemporary society. In doing so, this study concludes that many men maintain a dominant position in various family types, and a gendered distribution of privilege and inequality continues to shape men's and women's respective experiences of 'the family'.