The purpose of this paper is to investigate the roles of mothers, fathers and children in family decision-making (FDM) processes in families with different characteristics in terms of household structure, parents’ resources and family communication styles. As several structural changes regarding families have taken place within the last decades, there is a need to update the theories around FDM – in particular, regarding to the role of women and children.
A survey was distributed to 520 individuals in 183 families, where mothers, fathers and children above nine years living at home completed the survey.
The study demonstrates that the product category largely influences FDM dynamics, as well as housework division, parental characteristics and communication style. The study also reveals that structural changes may put more pressure on mothers. This pressure can partly be relieved if the family encourages children to become independent consumers rather than trying to control their consumption. Moreover, when fathers take a larger part in the housework, traditional gender roles become more fluid.
For policymakers concerned with equality within the family, it may be a better approach to enable fathers to more actively participate in household chores than to try to change behaviour through information about equality.
This study extends the understanding of FDM in contemporary households by taking into account the views of all family members and produces a more complete picture of the decision-making dynamics within families.
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