Planning a family activity:
Distributing responsibilities for tasks

Year: 1993

Author: Chalmers, Denise, Lawrence, Jeanette A., Todd, Jenny

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper explores the underlying role and gender-boundness and division of specific tasks for a pleasant, co-operative event. Year 9 adolescents and adults were asked to plan an unexpected party for a teenager, and allocate party chores to up to four helpers, comprised of family members and a friend. The allocation of different chores to adolescents and adults in this specific situation provides a window on their perceptions of roles and of the appropriateness of tasks that can be assigned to others. Findings from two separate party planning exercises, requiring abstract and specific allocations, revealed that adolescents and adults had clear understandings of what could and could not be delegated according to perceptions of the roles of the different helpers across ages and genders. Parents took up traditional responsibilities but did not involve themselves in the planning aspects of the party. Adolescents also excluded parents from assisting them with their plans, and from the party preparation. All had strict ideas about what a non-family friend could be asked to do. Findings are interpreted in relation to concepts of roles and responsibility.