Sociology Essay - “Outline And Discuss The View That There N

Essay on family diversity for AS Sociology

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: Emma Rudd
  • Created on: 25-03-08 16:29
Preview of Sociology Essay - “Outline And Discuss The View That There N

First 629 words of the document:

Sociology Richard / Mr Chacha Emma Rudd BMA
29th January
Sociology Essay ­ Diversity within the Family
"Outline and discuss the view that there now exists a range of family types in
contemporary society"
There are many different types and definitions of the family. It is suggested that a
family is a group of people related usually through blood, marriage or other legal ties
(i.e. adoption) but this is not always the case. It is a group of people who support each
other and at some point in their lives tend to have lived in the same household.
Sociologists do not agree on a definition of the family, although definitions can usually
be split into two categories exclusive and inclusive definitions. Exclusive definitions
focus on the specific relationships within the unit e.g. marriage. Where as inclusive
definitions focus on the functions of the unit e.g. supporting one another.
What is seen as an ideal family structure has changed over time, to match social
change and a change in people's attitudes. Different family types consist of the
extended family, the nuclear family, single parent families, and reconstituted families.
The extended family used to be seen as the ideal structure but it has now moved to
the nuclear family. Parsons (an American functionalist) supports this but does not
agree with the transition. He states that in preindustrial societies the extended family
system made it easier to carry out the wide range of functions within the family, but in
industrial societies the extended family system is no longer needed as the functions
of the extended family have been taken over by specialised agencies i.e. the welfare
state, and the nuclear family provides the essential roles of mother, father etc.
In a contemporary society not only are there a range of different family types /
structures but households have changed as well, it used to be the extended family
living in one household and now there are a number of different ways in which people
live, some people live with their families, some cohabit and some choose to live
Increasing numbers of households do not conform to conventional norms.
Cohabitation in Great Britain for women under the age of 60 has increased from 13%
in 1986 to 25% in 199899. Over the same time period for unmarried men under the
age of 60 it has gone from 11% to 26%. Although it has been argued that for most
people cohabitation is apart of the marriage process and is not a substitute.
Cohabiting has now become more socially acceptable so people can live together
without ever getting married and it is also considered ok to raise children in this
arrangement. The New Right criticise cohabitation by saying that it is less stable than
a marriage and therefore not the ideal arrangement for a family institution.
Not only have cohabitation households increased, so have single person households.
One reason behind the increase may be due to the increase in divorce rates and the
fact that people are choosing to get married later in life. Peter Stein interviewed single
individuals in the age range of 2545. They recognised that being single allowed them
to concentrate on their career and its opportunities and promoted overall freedom and
independence. Although they occasionally felt isolated and lonely.
Reconstituted families / stepfamilies have also increased this may also be a result
of increasing divorce rates. In 2003 it was estimated that 726000 children were living
in this family structure / type. De'Ath and Slater's study of step parenting presented

Other pages in this set

Page 2

Preview of page 2

Here's a taster:

Sociology Richard / Mr Chacha Emma Rudd BMA
29th January
problems with this arrangement. They argued that children might find themselves
being pulled in two directions especially if the relationship between the two biological
parents is strained. It was also argued that conflict was often found around / about the
extent to which the child accepted their stepparent, another problem occurred if their
biological parent and their new partner had another child, this could lead to the
existing children becoming envious.…read more


No comments have yet been made

Similar Sociology resources:

See all Sociology resources »See all resources »