Diversity in families and childhoods

  • Created by: holly6901
  • Created on: 31-08-20 09:08

Social class and family diversity

  • Postmodernists argue social class no longer shapes family life and individuals have greater choice about how to structure their lives. Other sociologists argue social class still shapes family life.
  • Crompton (2005): The family still plays a part in ensuring what Marxists refer to as class reproduction and most children will follow their parents into a similar class position in society.
  • Families play a considerable part in equipping their children for their role in society.
  • Wealthier parents pass on money, family businesses or other financial assets to their children. They may also invest in their children's education by paying private school fees or assisting with university fees. Middle-class parents often also possess cultural capital.
  • Children from families living in poverty may be disadvantaged due to a lack of income to ensure good housing, diet and access to leisure activities
  • Katz (2007): The stress of living in poverty may make it hard to bring up children effectively. However, many parents show resilience in the face of poverty and pass these skills to their children
1 of 5

Ethnicity and family diversity - South Asians

  • The values of ethnic minorities in the UK can influence how those within them structure their families

South Asian families (India, Pakistan and Bangladesh) 

Ballard (1990) the South Asian migrants who settled in the UK tended to bring their traditions of family life with them. These included;

  • A preference for large multi-generational households based around a man, his sons, his grandsons, his wives and his unmarried daughters
  • Traditiional gender roles
  • A strong sense of obligation towards other family members
  • A sense of family honour where the behaviours of individuals reflect on the family as a whole
  • A preference for marriages to be arranged or approved by parents as marriages is a link between 2  families.

More recently there is evidence of change but Berthoud:(2001) says South Asians remain more traditional than white people

2 of 5

Ethnicity and family diversity - African-Carribean

  • In some islands, such as Jamaica, the nuclear family is the norm but there is also a strong tradition of matrifocal families which are often lone-parent families headed by women where the childcare is shared between mothers, aunts and grandmothers.
  • While cohabitation has become more acceptable among white Britons, cohabiting couples bringing up biological or adopted children has long been normal in the Caribbean.
  • These patterns have been brought over by Carribeans in the UK
  • Berthoud and Beishon (1997): There are lower rates of formal marriage and higher rates of divorce and separation among British African-Caribbeans. This means lone-parent families are more common. Employment rates among African-Caribbean mothers are high, reflecting a tradition of female independence
  • Chamberlain (1999): Extended family members often provide support to lone-parents
  • Reynolds (2002): Noted visiting relationships where lone parents would have a male partner who visited frequently and assisted with childcare.
3 of 5

Ethnicity and family diversity

Patterns of ethnicity

  • These are the largest groups of ethnic minorities but there are many more
  • Berthoud (2001): Families in the UK can be placed on a scale from traditional family values to modern individualism. African-Caribbeans are the furthest along the road while South Asian families are more traditional.
  • Mann (2009): Criticises Berthoud that African-Caribbeans follow traditional Caribbean values. Questions how much African-Caribbeans represent modern individualism
4 of 5

Sexuality and family diversity

  • Giddens (1992): The acceptance of homosexuality is part of a transformation of intimacy where individuals can choose what intimate relationships they engage in.
  • Weeks, Donovan and Heaphy (1999): Many gay and lesbian people describe their household and friendship network *** chosen families because they can choose their families and negotiate egalitarian relationships rather than follow traditional heterosexual norms.
  • Calhoun (1997): Gay men and lesbians have traditionally been treated as family outlaws who threaten family life; however, modern life has come to be characterised by greater choice, so gay and lesbian lifestyles have become more accepted. Lesbian mothering avoids the exploitative relationships typical of heterosexual marriage.
  • Gay and lesbians are still a minority and some people still reject them
5 of 5


No comments have yet been made

Similar Sociology resources:

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