Post modernity and the life course

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  • Post modernity and the life course
    • Reject the idea that the nuclear family structure is the best structure.
    • As individual social actors, we make about our family life and relationships. Structural approaches wrongly assume that our actions are shaped and dictated to shape the needs of society.
    • Life course analysis
      • If we want to understand family life, we need to focus on individual family members and how they make their choices.
      • It focuses on what family members themselves consider important, rather than what sociologists regard as important
      • Looks at how families and households  change from the viewpoint of the people involved and the meanings they give to their lives, relationships and choices.
      • Suitable for studying families in today's society.
      • Family structures are increasingly just the result of the choices made by their members.
      • Hareven: studied the choices/decisions people made (e.g. coming out as gay/ having a baby) by using in-depth, structured interviews.
    • Family practices
      • Allows us to see why conflict exists within the family because different members may hold different beliefs of expectations about each other's responsibilities.
      • Morgan: prefers concept of family practices rather than family structure as a way of how we construct our life course and relationships.
        • Families are not concrete things or structures - simply what people do.
        • Today's society has become more fragmented /less clear-cut/boundaries blurred (unlike functionalist perspective).
      • Weeks: "chosen families," "friends as kinship," among gays shows families as less distinct.
    • Greater choice may lead to greater instability as relationships may break up.
    • Beck: We are more aware of risks today than before and as a result we can make choices that are less prone to risk.
    • Stacey: the divorce extended family

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