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Introduction
Parsons rejects the theory of the declining function of the
family in industrial society and asserts:
· That the family is subject to the basic principle of structural
differentiation brought about by industrialisation.
· Changes in the form of the family are adaptations to new
conditions.…read more

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Structural differentiation
Structural differentiation leads to:
· The isolation of the nuclear family from an organised extended kinship
network. The nuclear family becomes self-contained and no longer
dependent on material or emotional support from the parents of either
spouse or from other kin.
· The family becomes organised around a willing consensus based on the
provision of expressive support for the husband and children, and the
husbands instrumental participation in the outside world.
· Isolation is a product of the dominant values of an industrial culture;
material efficiency, prosperity, occupational careers and personal
achievement.…read more

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Isolated Nuclear Family
Parsons argues that isolated nuclear families best 'fit' industrial societies
because:
· They encourage occupationally induced geographic mobility. This is
assumed to be a characteristic of industrial society.
· Conflict of values-the idea that work values do not disrupt the family.
Conflict is overcome by restricting the economic role to one person.…read more

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Summary
· The family has functions to carry out for society and individuals, these are
divided into 'essential' and 'non-essential'.
· For society, the main function is pattern maintenance. For individuals, it is the
stabilisation of the adult personality and the socialisation of children.
· The family is viewed in evolutionary terms, evolution occurs via
differentiation.
· That the family form 'fits' industrial society.
· That the family is a 'natural' institution founded on biological attributes.
· That the family has an instrumental and an affective leader.
· That the nuclear family with two parents and dependent children living
together in a home in relative isolation is 'the' family form in western societies.…read more

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