Changing Pattern of the Family

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  • Household - the place of domesticity where resources are shared
  • Kinship - relationship based on biological or marital ties
  • Family - a group of persons drectly linked by kin connections, the adult member of which assumes responsibility for caring for children


  • Nuclear
  • Gay
  • Polygamy
  • Female-carer core
  • Reconsituted 
  • Single parent
  • Childless couples
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  • Marriage is in decline
  • Changing attidues: dont have to get married to have children
  • Secularisation :church has less influence
  • Decling stigma: alternative to marriage
  • Changes in the position of women: women dont need support
  • Fear of divorce: unhappy marriages end in divorce 
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  • Divore rates are increasing
  • Rising expectation of marriage: we ask too much from marriage
  • Changes in the position of women: no longer dependent and dont have to stay in unhappy marriages
  • Changes in the law: equal rights, desertion, empty shell marriage, 1969 irretrievable breakdown
  • Declining stigma: divorce is now a misfortune
  • Secularisation: less influence of the church 
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Why the change?

  • Cohabitation: 2 million couples, decline in stigma of marriage, younger people simply move in and forget about marriage
  • Same sex: gay and lesbians can get married and adopt legally easily (5-7% of the population) more flexible, but less stable
  • One person households: divorce makes lone people and fewer couples, seperation
  • Reconstituted families: divorced parents often remarry (10% of the population)
  • Extended families: normally only exist within ethnic minorities
  • Ethnic diverse families: less stigma in mixed race couples
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Modernism and the Family

  • Functionalist and New Right
  • Lone parents are a threat to traditional 
  • The neo-conventional family of dual earners, alternatives to the nuclear family are never long term and we all live in nuclear families at one time Chester
  • The Rapoports: the five types of diversity:  organisational (family roles), cultural (religious and ethnicity), social class (income differences), life stage (life cycle) and generational (different attitudes)  
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Post-Modernism and the Family

  • Life course analysis, what is important to family members, studies relationships not families
  • Giddens - greater choice has been caused by easy access to contraception and changing position of women, roles have changed
  • Beck - risk society, tradition is less of an influence, greater gender equality and greater individualism has created the negotiated family 
  • Weeks - shift in attitudes since the 50s, sexual morality and acceptance, yet still mainly traditional 
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