covers most but not all

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: Gemma
  • Created on: 08-01-13 08:44

Family Lifecycle

  • Type of household:
  • Nuclear Family - stability, not judged, expected in society and simple. However - Trapped
  • Single - Bigger bond with parent living with. However - Finance problems, mixed emotions, no role model for person of gender who isn't living there
  • Reconstituted Family - Lots of family. However - Don't get on
  • Student Halls - Friends, individual, experience, money, social. However - Arguments, mess and noise
  • Cohabiting - Test tun before marriage, money. However religious reasons

General trends in divorce, co habitation and marriage since the 1950s:

  • 1972 highest ever number couples since WW11 got married
  • Number of marriages reached all-tome low in 2005
  • 3/4 Pakistani and Bangladeshi woman are married by 25
  • 1/2 white women married by 25
  • People delaying marriage rather than rejecting it
1 of 14

Cohabitation and Marital breakdown


  • Rise in # of cohabitating couples in last decade
  • With or without children
  • ONS data 1/3 teens in 2007 cohab rather than marry
  • NR commentators say that cohabitation is less stable compared to marriage

Martial breakdown:

  • Empty-shell marriages - stay together in name only, do for the children, religious reasons
  • Seperation - used a lot in the past, agree to live apart, cheaper than divorce
  • Divorce - legal ending of a marriage, 'irretrievable breakdown' 'quickie divorces' - costly, adultery, fault, guilt
2 of 14


  • Britains divorce rate is higher compared to other European countries
  • 1/2 as many divorces as marriages
  • NR sociologists say children who exp divorce are more likely to suffer a range of problems
  • Changes in divorce law make it easier
  • Couples no longer do empty-shell marriages
  • Most divorce petitions done by women
  • Divorce is no longer seen as shame

Postmodern approches to divorce - Divorce increasing, less pressue for tradition, choices, conflict

Divorce trends implies that monogamy will become serial monogamy

3 of 14


  • 40% of marriages will end in divorce
  • 7/10 divorce petitions come from women
  • Statistics might be worse as people may be living seperate or in empty shell marriages

Declining stigma and changing attitudes - stigma is a negative label, people see it as acceptable

Changes in the law - NEW RIGHT - women have been given more rights, more reasons, cheaper

Irretrievable breakdown:

  • 1969 divorce if you didn't get on
  • 1984 file for divorce after 1 year instead of 3
  • 2004 civil partnerships were made equal with marriages
  • 2007 couples were allowed 50:50 split of possesions
4 of 14


Rising expectations of marriage:

  • Funtionalist sociologists think high exp are high course for divorce
  • Love not only reason - money

Changes in position of women - FEMINST VIEW:

  • Economic position of women has got better
  • 2005 70% of women were in paid work

Secularisation - GENERAL SOCIETY:

  • Decline in influence of religion
  • Religious institutions are losing their influence
5 of 14

G.P Murdock

Family = social group characterised by common residence, economic co-operation and reproduction (New Right)

Says all good things v tradition based

Conservative ideology = todays idea e.g advert (family - KFC, fairy liquid)

Organic Analogy = society functions like a boduy

Consensus = Everyone working together

6 of 14

Talcott Parsons view of the family evolving

Pre industrial - agricultural economy, extended family, labour intensive productions, family as consumers (Pre 1750 - ascription)

Then: Industrialisation (expressive leader - women + instrumental leader - men) and Technological development lead to....

Industrial society - manufacturing economy, nuclear family, machine intensive, family as consumers (1900s - achievement)

Structural differentiation - many jobs to specialised jobs

Family functions = primary socialisation of children and stabilisation of the adult personality

7 of 14

Feminist view on family

Radical feminists:

  • Saw problem as patriarchy - men ruled everything
  • Patriarchy caused a problem everywhere
  • Women = One class. Men = Another class
  • Against domestic violence.

Socialist feminists (marxists) - Saw problems in society, worked with working class, worked with men

Liberal feminists:

  • Legal changes to improve position of women e.g. sex discrimination act, equal pay act, employment protection act
  • Blame the law - thought the law was the problem

3rd wave feminists = UK Feminista (moderner) - protest in todays society

8 of 14

Marxists say about family

Karl Marx (1818-1883) - argued bourgeoisie are the minority that benefit from the work of the proletariat. Proletariat = poor minority. Bourgeoisie keep all the profits and become richer - capitalism benefits B, but disads P

Inheritance of property - Marxs (capitalism) believe family made women just to produce children for man to inherit the wealth: 'A mere instrument for the production of children' Contrast funct think its a good thing, but marxs believe it takes independence away.

Ideological functions - Ideology = ideas. Family teaches children their place (hierarchy).

Unit of consumption - Family is a unit to buy things, therefore making profit for the economy - 'pester power' + 'keeping up with the Joneses'

9 of 14

Class diversity and sexual diversity

Class diversity

  • Rapoport et al (1982) suggest that there may be differences between middle-class and working-class families
  • Difference in how children how socialised and disciplined
  • Some sociologists argue that middle-class parents are more child-centred than working-class parents
  • Evidence that extended kinship ties are important to the upper class

Sexual diversity

  • NR concerned with increasing # of same - sex couples who are cohabitating
  • Increasing trend with s-s couples are adopting
  • NR say it is 'unnatural'
  • Government giving same rights as hetrosexual married couples to homosexual married couples
10 of 14

Postmodernism and family diversity + Demography (c

Postmodernism and family diversity - Characterised by diversity, variation and instability

  • Premarital sex, serial monogamy, single-sex relationships and childlessness are now acceptable alternative lifestyles
  • Men roles are no longer clear cut
  • 'Crisis of masculinity' has led to men redefining both their sexuality and family commitments
  • Beck and Beck (1995) argue that such choice/diversity have led to renegotiation of family

Demography and diversity - some conclusions - Changes (fertility rate etc) have had effect on family structure in the modern UK

  • Changes have undermined the tradionalist NR view of nuc family
  • 2005 37% couples children
  • 25 % couples with no children
  • 40% live in non-traditional family
11 of 14

Was Talcott Parsons right?

Peter Laslett 1972 - Thinks TP is wrong as only 10% in Pre-I times were extd families - used English parish records.

Michael Anderson 1971 - Disagress with TP. Studied indus town of Preston - put wages into helping

Young and Willmott 1973 - Also think TP was wrong about the speed of change.

12 of 14

More on GP Murdock

Reproduction, Marriage and sexual relations, economic and education.

Murdock and Parsons theory is aimed a white middle class familes - problem as not always the case/work in todays society.

13 of 14


Childhood is a social construction that isn't biological stage (0-18), it is socially decided.

Time - Philippe Aries (1962) childhood like it is today didn't exist in medieval times

  • Early industrialisation 1750 - Little distinction between children and adults.
  • Victorian period Mid 19th century - Schools and games become popular and children became more important.
  • Childhood in 20th century - Emergence of a child-centred society.

Place - Some countries treat children as child soliders/labourers

Space - Gender, Sexuality, Rural, Urban, and social class

14 of 14


No comments have yet been made

Similar Sociology resources:

See all Sociology resources »See all Families and households resources »