#55 Changing Patterns and Family Diversity

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  • Created by: Muy
  • Created on: 16-04-13 21:53


  • 40% of marriages now end in divorce
  • Legislation has made divorce easier compared to the 19th century, such as equalising the grounds for divorce (1923), widening grounds for divorce and its cheaper 
  • Social factors may be more important than legal ones (i.e. Postmodernism)
  • Less social stigma is attached to divorce... in 1960s churches condemned it but stigma has declined rapidly -> divorce being common further reduces stigma, making it more acceptable
  • Secularisation and religions influence has declined, weddings + church attendance continues to drop
  • Fletcher (Functionalist) argues higher expectation of marriage is the reason for high divorce rates, due to less economic dependancy marriage is based on love only so when love dies theres no reason to stay together... Also there is still high rates of re-marriage 
  • Functionalists fail to explain why its mainly women who seek divorce (patriarchal oppression)
  • Womens position has now changed, they are less economically dependant such as lone parent welfare and employment... The triple shift may explain 70% of divorce petitions come from women
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  • Theres fewer first marriage because...
  • - Changing attitudes means less pressure to marry
  • - Alternatives are available e.g. cohabitation
  • - Economic independance of women
  • - Impact of feminism, many women see marriage as patriarchal
  • - Rising divorce rates can be offputting
  • There are more re-marriages, women marry later, and fewer church wedding due to secularisation
  • 1.5 mil couples cohabitate in England and Wales, due to less stigma on sex outside marriage and women are less economically dependant
  • Cohabitation is similar to a trial marriage
  • Legalisation of gay marriage in the UK means more same sex relationships... Some still resembled marriage i.e. civil partnerships gave same rights
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  • Over 40% of children born outside marriage, especially with the increase in cohabitation
  • Lone parent families account for 25% of all families, a number tripled since the 1970s... Increased divorce and less stigma attached to births outside of marriage may be the cause
  • New Right blames welfare for encouraging dependancy culture, 90% are women headed (expressive role therefore likelier to get custody)
  • Notably benefits are low, and families are poor as they lack affordable childcare, prevents mothers working and fathers dont pay maintenance
  • Reconstituted families are increasing due to divorce and re-marriages (serial monagamous relationships)
  • 49% of lone parents are black, this is may be due to higher male unemployment and black women valuing independance 
  • Larger Asian households due to cultural importance of the extended family, nonetheless most are still nuclear
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Functionalists, New Right, Neo Conventional and Ra

  • Functionalists see the nuclear family suited to needs of modern industrial society and family members
  • The New Right opposes diversity, viewing the nuclear family as the only natural one, other family types simply produce problems... Feminists argue it justifies patriarchal opppression AND family roles are social contructs
  • Chester (Neo conventional family) - diversity is increasing however the nuclear family is still dominant except both spouses work nowadays. Nuclear family is still the norm to aspire to
  • Rapaport disagreed with Chester, diversity meets people needs and is central to families
  • -> Organisational - join/segregated conjugal roles
  • -> Cultural - ethnic groups vary in family structures
  • -> Class - difference in child rearing
  • -> Life cycle - e.g. pensioner couples o
  • -> Generational - attitudes e.g. to cohabitation ... THESE ARE 5 TYPES OF DIVERSITY RAPAPORT IDENTIFED
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Postmodernists and family diversity

  • Theres no dominant family type due to more choice in relationships
  • Giddens - contraception and greater independance for women has brought more choice/equality to relationships. Relationships lasts as long as it meets their needs therefore more choice = less stability
  • Ulrich Beck - more choice means people are more aware of risks, this is 'risk society' 
  • In the past people lacked choice, they were simply expected to marry and play conventional gender roles... this provided stability although it was oppressive
  • Post modernism underestimates inequality/oppression influence restricting choices
  • Beck believed the patriarchal families been undermined because of greater gender equality and a more individualistic society
  • 'Negotiated family' is a new family type, it varies according to the members wishes... Its less stable but more equal than patriarchal families because it places emphasis on individual needs and they can leave if their needs arent met
  • Postmodernists reject the New Right view because - 
  • -> diversity allows people to choose relationships based on their needs, so women can escape oppression 
  • -> a family IS a family regardless of its form
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