Sociology – Family Unit – Diversity In Families And Househol

notes on family and household diversity for AS Sociology

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Sociology Richard
Emma Rudd BMA
Sociology ­ Family Unit ­ Diversity in Families and Households
Recent Trends in Family Life: Cohabitation, One Parent Families, Reconstituted
Families, Samesex and Single Persons Households, Dual Career Families.
Diversity in the Family Structure
Diversity within the family structure can be seen from the Office for National Statistics
in 2000. Some are as follows:
23% of households consist of married / cohabiting parents with dependent
35% of households consist of married / cohabiting couples who either have no
children or have children that are no longer dependent on them.
29% of households are made up of people living alone.
25% of families with dependent children are headed by a lone parent
In 1996 it was estimated that there are just over one million cohabiting couples
in England and Wales, representing 1 in 6 of the adult nonmarried population.
In 199899 reconstituted families accounted for 6% of all families with
dependent children ­ according to an estimate by 2010 they will outnumber
families with two birth parents.
More and more households do not conform to conventional norms. Nonmarried
women aged under 60, the proportion cohabiting in Great Britain almost doubled from
13% to 25% between 1986 ­ 199899. For men it went from 11% to 26% over the
same time period.
For most people cohabitation is part of the process of getting married and is not a
substitute. It has become more acceptable to live together without ever getting married
and also to raise children in this arrangement.
The New Right criticises cohabitation as they say that relationships can be more
abusive as there is no respect, they argue that people are more likely to be unfaithful,
depressed and a relationship like this is generally more stressful.
Reconstituted Families
Step families can be a result of things such as divorce or if someone is widowed.
Such families are on the increase as a result of the rise in divorce rates. In 2003 it was
estimated that 726,000 children were living in this type of family.
De'Ath and Slater's study of step parenting identified a number of challenges facing
reconstituted families. As children may find themselves being pulled in two directions,
especially if the relationship between the two parents is strained. Tension may also
arise if the new couple decide to have children, as this may result in the existing child
feeling envious.
SingleParent Families
The number of one parent families with dependent children in the UK tripled from 2% of
households in 1961 to 7% in 2003. Consequently there are approximately 1.75 million
lone parent families in Britain making up about 25% of all families.

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Sociology Richard
Emma Rudd BMA
Some characteristics of SingleParent Families
A great majority of single parents are working class women.
Many single parents' families live in poverty. In 1985 63% of single parents were
receiving income support as their major source of income. Government
policies seem much more in favour of widowed single parents that a divorced
single parent.
Single mothers are less likely to work than married mothers and if they do, it is
likely to be part time work.…read more

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Sociology Richard
Emma Rudd BMA
Another changed linked to family diversity is that there has been a growth in the paid
employment of married women. In 1991 67% of married women were employed
outside the home, nearly half of them working part time.…read more


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