Characteristics of family types

  • Created by: Kiwisloth
  • Created on: 30-11-18 14:22

Non-family households

Definition: an individual or group who share a common residence and are not related

Two characteristics:

*A significant proportion of single person households are male (this is due to an increase in divorce and women taking custody of their children, Chandler et al)

  • it is seen as a positive lifestyle choice (people spend more of life unmarried than married and old women choose to not remarry, Kilnenburg))
  • it’s increasing

It is increasing because:

*there has been a shift in women’s priorities (women are choosing to be more financially independent and focus on their carriers before they become mothers, Sharpe)
*cohabitation is more socially acceptable (couples live together as a trial marriages and sex outside of marriage is allowed so there’s no pressure to marry, Allan and Crow)

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Nuclear family

Definition: consists of two generations. E.g. a married monogamous couple and their two dependant unmarried children.

*It is a universal institution (form so of nuclear families have been found in 250 societies, Murdock)
*it provides important functions for society (primary socialisation, teaches norms and values; the stableisation of adult personalities, ‘warm bath theory’ women are to sooth their husbands stresses because of their ‘expressive nature’ while men are ‘instrumental nature’, Parsons)

  • it is in decline

    Reasons for the decline:

  • more couple choose to remain childless (high standards but a low status occupation, it’s a positive decision, McAllister and Clarke)
  • a rise in single parent families (there is less stigma and a seen asa positive alternative to an unhappy marriage, Allan and Crow)
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Extended family

Definition: contains relatives outside of the nuclear family. 3+ generations.

*contains a ‘sandwich generation’ (women see it as their duty to take care of their parents and children, Grundy and Henrietta)
*it is important for grandparents to teach the children about their culture (parents know best, obedience and loyalty- religious values and learning the mother tongue, Ghumman)

  • it remains important

Reasons for it remaining important:
*Rise in beanpole families (‘pivot generation’ life expectancy has increased and fertility has decreased, Brannen)
*grandparents can provide financial/emotional support (grandparents listen to children and act as a go between while providing childcare, Ross et al)

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Lone parent families

Definition: a family consisting of one adult and their dependant child/children.

*More likely to be headed by a women (women take custody of children more often 90%, Robinson)
*more common in Afro-Caribbean communities (boys lack a male role model/father figures so they turn to their peers Andy the media, Sewell)

  • this family type is increasing

Reasons for increase:

  • it is seen as a positive life choice (its easy to divorce because women no longer necessary for women to be financially dependent, Allan and Crow)
    there is less stigma (secularisation, Allan and Crow)
  • there’s no pressure to remain in an empty shell marriage (secularisation causes an increase in serial monogamy, Giddens)
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Reconsistuted family

Definition: step family


*causes tension between family members ( there is tension between parents and step parents and envy for new children, De’ath and slater)
*can form a binuclear family (when the parents are separated but still both look after the children, Smart et al)
*it is increasing

Reasons for increase:
*less stigma attached (it offers a chance for a successful partnership where both parent and children are happy, Bedell)
*more people practice cereal monogamy as they do not have to stay in empty shell marriages (secularisation makes remarrying more acceptable, Giddens)

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Same-sex families

Definition: a same-sex couple who have dependant children.


*They raise children in an egletarian nature (they raise children more tolerant and value equality in relationships, Dunne)

*they have chosen families- choice in their organisation and structure (there is less stigma so there are more same-sex couple raising children! Weeks et al)

*theres been an increase

Reasons for increase:

*there is less stigma (it is a more acceptable alternative lifestyle, Beck and Beck-Gernshiem)

*more same sex couples are adopting children (the adoption act of 2002 allowed all couples including same sex were allowed to adopt children)

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