Did Someone say Double Standards?

The Problem

The collective action problem I am writing about is something that occurs in my everyday life; the unfair distribution of chores within my household. The way my family has handled chores has been a collective action problem for as long as I can remember. Meaning that the most difficult and time-consuming chores are placed on one person, myself. At first glance, this topic may not be seen as political in any way. However, the very reason that the majority of chores in my house are put on me makes for a common political issue. This is because I have two brothers that are perfectly capable of putting in work too. But unfortunately, they don’t help nearly as much as I do, and my parents can’t ever give me a real reason why. 

Free Riding

After careful analysis, the collective action problem that best fits this situation is free riding. This is evident because everyone in our household, my brothers specifically, benefit from the perks of a clean and tidy home with little to no contribution towards the clean environment. For example, As soon as I came home from college, I noticed that the bathroom that my brothers and I share was very dirty. So, I decided to clean the bathroom hoping that we would all be able to maintain its cleanliness. The next morning, there were things on the floor and things were out of place. Another short example would be my family members filling the sink with dishes knowing they don’t have to wash them at the end of the day. These are just a few occurrences where my brothers and other members of my family took part in freeriding.


We have attempted many times to put institutions in place to make things easy for everyone, but the rules always fall through because not everyone enforces them. Some of these rules were: Wash your dishes right after you use them, wipe down the countertops at least once a week, and keep all shoes in the laundry room. Some other institutions that would create even more structure and equal work throughout our household would be to assign dishwashing duties to a different person each day. This same method could be used for all other aspects of cleaning such as the bathroom, the kitchen, and the living room. If our household was more passionate about this matter then maybe we would be able to agree on fair and sustainable institutions.


  1. Super informative stuff Lauren! I especially Like the commentary on how these double standards are political in nature. Where do you think these double standards come from: capitalism?, patriarchy?, what are your thoughts

  2. The struggles of the female person is very real, and the cases when we are taken for granted is always unfortunate, but we can’t stop striving to change society. It’s one of our occupational hazards.


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