Family and households

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  • Created on: 26-10-18 12:43



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Functionalists emphasise the positive role of the

Nuclear family- Two generations living together

Traditional extended family- Three or more generations of the same family living together or close by, with freuqent contact between grandparents, grandchildren , aunts, cousins

Attenuated extended family- Nuclear families that live apart from thier extended family but keep in regular contact e.g via phone or email.

Lone parent families- A single parent and their dependent children

Reconsituted families- New step families created when parts of two previous families are brought together. 

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Functionalists emphasise the positive role of the

Murdock (1949) looked at 250  societies in different cultures

Argues that family performs four basic functions; 

Sexual- provides a stable sexual relationshi for adults, and controls the sexual relationship of its members

Reproductive- provides new babies- new members of society

Economic- The family pools resources and provides for all it's memebers, adults and children

Educational- The faimily teaches children the norms and values of society, which keeps the values of society going.

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Functionalists emphasise the positive role of the

Talcott Parsons argued family always has two basic and irreducible functions;

Primary socilisation- Is the process by which children learn and accept the values and norms of society. 

Stabilisation of adult personalities- For adults the family stabilises perosnalities through the emotional relationship between the parents. The emotional relationship gives the support and security needed to cope in the wider society.

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functionalist ignore the negative aspects of famil

  • Functionalist have been criticised for idealising the family- Focusing on th good bits and blanking out the bad habits. Morgan (1975) points out that murdock makes no reference to alternative households to the family, or to disharmony and problems in the family. 
  • The functionlist view of family is dominant in sociology into the 1960s. Since then there's been widespread criticism that neither Murdock nor Parsons look at issues of conflict , class or violence in reaction to the family. Some feminists argue that they also ignored the issue of exploutation of women. 
  • The fact they overlook negative aspects makes their position look weak.
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Marxists see the family as meeting the needs of th

Marxist argue the family benefits the minority in power (the bourgeoisie) and the economy but it disadvantges the workng class. 

  • Engels (1884)  said the family had an economic function of keeping wealth within the bourgeoisie by passing it on to the next generation as inheritance. In other words when a rich person dies, their kids get the money. 
  • Zaretsky(1976)- focused on how the family helped with the capitalsit economy. He argued that the family is one place in society where the proletariat can have power and control. When the working man gets home , hes king of his own castle. This relives some of the frustration workers feel about their low status, helps them to accept their oppression.
  • In capitalist society a womens role as 'houseiwfe' of the family means workers are cared for and healthy. This makes them more productive- a great benefit that the capatalist class ( the employers) get for free. 
  • The family household is a unit with the desire to buy the goods produced by capitalsist industry e.g washing machines, cars, fridges. The family is a unit of consumption. The family gives the bourgeoise profit.
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The Marxist view is criticized for being to negati

The Marxist view of the family is all about it being a tool of captalist opression  and never mentions nice things. 

Criticisms of the Marxist view of the family

Marxist sociology is entirely focused on benefits to the economy, and benefits to the working man's boss. It ignores other benefits to individuals and society. 

Traditonal Marxist sociology assumes that the worker is male, and that women are housewives. 

There is no Marxist explanation for why the family flourishes as an institution in non-capitalist or communist societies and there is little Marxist reserch on alternatives. 

Functonalists and Marxists both see the family as having a key role in society in reproducing social structure and order. The key sociological debate between them is whether this is positve or negative and who benefits.

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Most feminists believe the Family Exploits and Opp

  • From a feminist perspective, the family helps to maintain the existing social order. 
  • Feminists call the existing social order patriarchy. Patriarchy is the combination of systems, ideologies and cultural practices which make sure that men have power.
  • Feminist theory argues that the family supports and reproduces inequalities between men abd women.
  • The idea is that women are oppressed because they're socialised to be dependent on men - and to put themselves in second place to men. The family has a central role in this socialisation - male and female roles and expectations are formed in that family and then carried on into wider society.
  • Feminist sociologists say that there's an ideologgy about men's role and women's roles in the family.
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There are Three Main Strands of Feminist Thought o

Marxist feminism - sees the exploitation of women as essential to the success of capitalism. The family produces and cares for the next generation of workers for society at almost no cost to the capitalist system. It's cost-free because society accepts that housework should be unpaid. Men are paid for work outside the home, but women aren't paid for work inside the home. If this sounds outdated, remember evidence shows that even when women work outside the home they still do most of the domestic labour. Benston (1969) points out that if housework were paid even at minimum wage levels it would damage capitalist profits hugely.

Radical feminism - radical feminist theory also highlights housework as an area of exploitation of women, but... and it's a big but... radical feminists don't see this as the fault of the capitalist system. Radical feminists see the exploitation of women as being down to the domination of men in society. Radical feminism believes that men will always oppress women. Delphy and Leonard (1992) are radical feminists who see the family as a patriarchal institution in which women do most of the work and men get most of the benefits. 

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There are Three Main Strands of Feminist Thought o

Liberal feminism - emphasise the cultural norms and values which are reinforced by the family and by other institutions in society. The family is only sexist because it supports mainstream culture which is sexist. Liberal feminists believe social change is possible. They try to put pressure on institutions such as the legal system and government to change laws and social policies which discriminate against women.

Feminist Theory has been Criticised 

  • All strands of feminist theory have been criticised for portraying women as too passive. It plays down the ability of individual women to make changes and improve their situation.
  • Feminist sociology doesn't acknowledge that power might be shared within a family.
  • Some feminist theory has been criticised for not considering the households in society which don't feature a man and women partnership, e.g. lesbian and gay relationships and lone-parent households. The power structures in those families don't get looked at.
  • Some black feminists have pointed out that a lot of feminist theory doesn't address the fact that women from different ethnic backgrounds have different life experiences. 
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The New Right Believe the Nuclear Family is the Be

  • New Right theory gained influence in sociology in the 1980s. It's based on the idea that the traditional nuclear family and its values are best for soicety.
  • New Right theorists reckon that social policies on family, children, divorce ad welfare have undermined the family.
  • Charles Murray is a New Right sociologist who says the traditional family is under threat. Murray (1989) says that welfare benefits are too high and create a 'culture of dependency' where an individual finds it easy and acceptable to take benefits rather than work.
  • New Right theories are particularly concerned about giving lots of welfare benefits to single mothers. They also think that it's a very bad idea to have children brought up in families where adults aren't working. 
  • New Right sociologists believe that the increase in lone-parent and reconstituted (step) families and easier access to divorce have led to a breakdown in traditional values. They say that this causes social problems such as crime to increase. 
  • Some politicians have made use of New Right theory. It's had an influence on social policy - making it harder for people to get benefits.

New Right theory has been criticised for 'blaming the victim' for their problems. 

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Postmodernists Say Diversity in Family Structures

  • The central idea of postmodern views of the family is that there's a much wider range of living options available these days - because of social and cultural changes. There are traditional nuclear families, stepfamilies, cohabiting unmarried couples, single people flat-sharing, more divorced people etc.
  • Postmodern sociologist Judith Stacey (1990) reckons there's such a diversity of family types, relationships and lifestyles that there'll never be one dominant type of family in Western culture again. She says that family structures in Western society are varied and flexible. This means a person can move from one family structure into another, and not get stuck with one fixed family structure.
  • Postmodernists say that the key thing is the idea that contemporary living is so flexible that one individual can experience lots of different types of family in their lifetime. Postmodernists see this diversiry and flexibility as positive - because it means individuals can always choose from several options depending on what suits their personal needs and lifestyle. People aren't hemmed in by tradition. 
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Postmodernists Say Diversity in Family Structures

  • Sociological criticism of postmodern theory question whether this movement through differnt family types is really all that typical. O'Brien and Jones (1996) concluded from their UK research that there was less variety in family types than Stacey reported, and that most individuals actually experienced only one or two different types of family in their lifetime.
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Parsons said that Industrialisation Changed Family

  • There are two basic types of family structure: extended and nuclear 
  • There are two basic types of society: pre-industrial society and industrial society

Pre-industrial society - society before industrialisation. It is largely agricultural and work centres on home, farm, village and market.

Industrial society - society during and after industrialisation. Work centres on factories and production of goods in cities.

Talcott Parsons (1951) said that nuclear families became dominant in industrial society          In pre-industrial society, the extended family is most common. Families live and work together, producing goods and crops to live from, taking the surplus to market. There is where the term cottage industry comes from.

In industrial society, the nuclear family becomes dominant. There is a huge increase in individuals leaving the home to work for a wage. The key social change is that industrialisation separates home and work.

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Functionalists Say Industrialisation Changed the F

Parsons was a functionalist - he thought that the dominant family structure changed from extended to nuclear because it was more useful for industrial society - i.e. the nuclear family is the best fit for industrial society.

  • Lots of functions of the family in pre-industrial society are taken over by the state in industrial society - e.g. policing, healthcare, education.
  • The nuclear family can focus on its function of socialisation. The family socialises children into the roles, values and norms of industrialised society.
  • Parsons said the industrial nuclear family is 'isolated' - meaning it has few ties with local kinship and economic systems. This means the family can easily move to where the work is (this is called 'geographical mobility').

In short, family structure adapts to the needs of society.

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Functionalists Say Industrialisation Changed Roles

  • Status for an individual in pre-industrial society was ascribed - decided at birth by the family they were born into. Parsons reckoned that in industrial society an individual's status is achieved by their success outside the family.
  • The idea here is that the nuclear family is the best for allowing individuals to achieve status anf position without conflict. It's OK for an individual to achieve higher or lower status than previous generations. This allows for greater social mobility in society. People can better themselves.
  • Parsons says that specialised roles for men and women develop within the family. He thought that men are instrumental (practical/planning) leaders and women are expressive (emotional_ leaders in a family. As a functionalist, Parsons said these roles come about because they're most effective for society. Feminists and conflict theorists disagree - they say these roles come from ideology and power.

Other sociologists say it's all More Complicated

  • Functionalists are criticised for seeing the modern nuclear family as superior - somthing that societies have to evolve into. They're also criticised for putting forward an idealised picture of history. Historical evidence suggests there was actually a variety of family forms in the past. 
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Functionalists Say Industrialisation Changed Roles

  • Sociologists Peter Laslett (1972) reckons that the nuclear family was the most common structure in Britain even before industrialisation. His evidence comes from parish records. Also Laslett and Anderson (1971) say that the extended family actually was significant in industrial society. Anderson used the 1851 census for evidence. He said that when people moved to the cities for industrial jobs, they lived with relatives from their extended family.
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Willmott and Young said Families have Developed Th

British sociologists Willmott and Young (1960, 1973) did two important studies looking at family structures in British society from the 1950s to the 1970s. They mainly studued families in different parts of London and Essex. Their work tested the theory that the nuclear family is the dominant form in modern industrial society.

Conclusion: British families have developed through three stages. Initially, they set out four stages, but there wasn't a lot of evidence for the last stage, so they dropped it.

  • Stage One: Pre-Industrial - Family works together as an economic productions unit. Work and home are combined.
  • Stage Two: Early Industrial - Extended family is broken up as individuals (mostly men) leave home to work. Women at home have strong extended kinship networks. 
  • Stage Three: Privatised Nuclear - Family based on consumption, not production - buying things, not making things. Nuclear family is focused on its personal relationships and lifetyle. Called 'the symmetrical family' - husband and wife have joint roles.
  • Stage Four: Asymmetical - Husband and Wife roles become asymmetrical as men spend more leisure time away from the home - in the pub for example. 
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Willmott and Young said Families Have Developed Th

A key part of the definition of a symmetrical family is the idea that both parents work either part-time ot full-time. The economic contribution of men and women is equally important.

  • Helen Wilkinson (1994) argued that increasing numbers of women are working because the economy has moved away from the historically male-dominated industrial sector towards the traditionally female-dominated service sector.
  • Women's attitude towards work and family have undergone a 'genderquake' - Wilkinson notes that, in the early 1990s, women between the ages of 16 and 35 saw work and education as more important than having children.
  • Women have gained economic influence in the family through employment - this changes the structure of the family because traditional gender roles within the family are broken down.
  • In 2012, a survey of social attitudes found with 41% of women and 36% of men believed that the ideal way to structure a family with dependent children was for men to work full-time and women to work part-time. This structure was seen as more desirable than only having a male breadwinner.
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Other Sociologists have criticised Willmott and Yo

  • Willmott and Young (and other functionalists) have been criticised for assuming that family life has got better and better as structure adapts to modern society. They're described as 'march of progress' theorists.
  • Willmott and Young ignore the negative aspects of the modern nuclear family. Domestic violence, child abuse and lack of care for older and vulnerable people are all problems in sociey today.
  • Feminist research suggests equal roles in the 'symmetrical family' don't really exist.
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Governments try to influence Family Structure thro

  • The UK government often makes laws that are designed to influence family life or family structure. These laws are part of social policy.
  • Social Policy laws over areas such as divorce, changes to the benefit system which affect family income, reforms to the education system, adoption/fostering and employment.
  • Donzelot (1977) argued that social policy can be used by the state to control families. He argues that professionals such as health care visitors can use their knowledge to control family behaviour.
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Social Policy has Changed Over Time

  • The way that goverments tackle social policy has changed since the Second World War, 
  • In the 1945-1979 period, the state's social policy was quite interventionist.
  • The Welfare State, which was set up by a Labour Government in 1948, supported families through benefits, public housing, family allowances and free health care.
  • People paid into a national insurance scheme to pay for the welfare state. It was universal - everyone had the same benefits and services.
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The 1979 Conservative Government Believed in Reduc

The conservative Party was elected in 1979 with Margaret Thatcher as their leader. Reacting to several years of political instability, they set about reforming the relstionship between socirty and the state.

  • The Conservatives were influenced by New Right ideology. They believed that nuclear families were the cornerstone of society, but also thought that society as a whole shoulld be freed from interference by the state as much as possible. They thought the UK had become a 'nanny state' with too much government control over individual lives.
  • They set out to make individuals more responsible for their own lives and decisions - the state would intervene much less in private matters. So benefits were cut and taxes lowered. Means testing was introduced for some benefits with the aim of helping only those in genuine need. (Means testing is when you only get a benefit if your household income is below a set level).
  • Mothers were encouraged to stay at home through preferential tax allowances. Families were pushed to take on more responsibility for older people through benefit cuts.
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The Conservatives Legislated to Protect People in

The Conservatives valued traditional, nuclear families. In 1988, Thatcher described the family as "the building block of society. It's a nursery; a school, a hospital, a leisure place, a place of refuge and a place of rest."

The Conservatives created several laws that enforced the rights and responsibilites of individuals in families. 

  • The Child Support Agency was established in 1993 to force absent fathers and mothers to pay a fair amount towards the upkeep of their children.
  • The Children Act 1989 outlined for the first time the rights of the child.
  • The Conservatives also considered a law to make divorce more difficult - a complusory cooling off period of one year was proposed before a couple could divorce. In the end they abandoned this idea because they couldn't find a way to make it work in practice.
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New Labour Promised a Compromise between the Old I

New Labour came to power in 1997 led by Tony Blair.

  • They based their ideology on 'The Third Way' - a middle ground ground between left-wing and right-wing politics. Their poloicies were designed to be more pragmatic and less ideological than either the 1979 Conservative government or previous Labour governments.
  • In their 1998 consultation paper 'Supporting Families', they made it clear that marriage was their preferred basis for family life.
  • However they showed an awareness of, and concerned for, diversity of family life.
  • In 2005 they introduced civil partnerships, a union a lot like marriage that is available to gay couples.
  • They also introduced laws allowing any type of cohabiting couple to adopt children.
  • They adopted some New Right ideas about family policy - e.g. they cut lone-parent family benefits, supported means-tested benefits and were opposed to universal benefits.
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The Coalition Government Promoted Family Stability

After the General Election in 2010, no single party won a majority - a coalition government of Condervatives and Liberal Democrats formed under Conservative leader David Cameron.

  • The Coalition promoted marriage as a stabilising force in family life. For example, they pledged to remove the 'couples penalty' that made those on benefits better off it they lived apart.
  • In 2014, they legalised same-sex marriage. However, not all Conservative politicians agreed - they thought that civil partnerships and same-sex marriage would damage family stability.
  • After the financial crisis of 2008, the Coalition introduced a policy of economic austerity, which aimed to reduce the amount of money the government was spending. This had an impact on family life in the UK.
  • In an attempt to reduce the welfare bill, the Coalition capped housing benefit in 2013 at £500 a week for couples and single parents with children - married couples were not prioritised in this policy.


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The Coalition Government Promote Family Stability

In 2015, a Conservative government was elected. This government continued the Coalition policy of austerity and thought families should take more economic responsibility for their children.

  • In 2015, the Conservative government announced a cap on child benefit - they decided that families with three or more children would not receive an increase in child tax credit or housing benefit after their second child.
  • The Secretary for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith suggested that limiting child benefit to the first two children would promote 'behavioural change' and discourage families from having too many children.
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The Rise of the Nuclear Family led to Joint Conjug

Conjugal Roles are the roles of Husband and Wife (partner and partner) within the home. Elizabeth Bott (1957) studied how jobs and roles within the family were allocated to men and women in modern industrial Britain.

Bott (1957) identified two ways household jobs can be shared 

  • Segregated Roles - Husbands and Wives lead separate lives with clear and distinct responsibilities within the family. The man goes out to work and does DIY. The women stays home, looks after the kids and provides emotional support.
  • Joint Roles - Husband and Wife roles are more flexible and shared, with less defined tasks for each. Usually leisure time is shared. Responsibility for making decisions is also shared.
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The Rise of the Nuclear Family led to Joint Conjug

  • Willmott and Young (1973) studied the changing structure of the British family from extended to nuclear. They reckoned that the increase in the nuclear family meant that joint conjugal roles would develop. They predicted that equal and shared responsibilities would be the future norm in British families.
  • Willott and Young's picture of widespread equality in marriage was criticised as soon as it was published.
  • Oakley (1974) pointed out that their study only required men to do a few things round the house to qualify as having joint roles. Their methodology overlooked the amount of time spent on housework - making 10 minutes washing-up equivalent to all the rest of the housework. Oakley's research found it was pretty rare for men to do a lot of housework.
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Conjugal Roles are Still Unequal, although Most Wo

Since the early studies by Bott, Willmott and Young, new family structures have developed. There are now lots more families where both partners work outside the home. Sociological evidence shows that an equal share of paid employment hasn't led to an equal share of domestic labour.

  • Edgell (1980) tested Willmott and Young's theory and found none of his sample families had joint conjugal roles in relation to housework. However, he did find increasd sharing of childcare.
  • Oakley (1974) found that women tokk on a dual burden - taking on paid jobs and still keeping the traditional responsibilities for home and children.
  • Gillian Dunne (1999) studied lesbian households. She found that the distribution of responsibilities such as childcare and housework tended to be equal between the partners.

These are all small-scale studies - it's important to look at research using a much larger sampleThe British Social Attitudes Survey 2012 was a large-scale study that questioned about 3000 people about gender roles. Less than 15% of those surveyed agreed that women should look after the home and family while men went out to work. There was also an increase in the number of people who thought that women with school-age children should work full-time.

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Conjugal Roles are Still Unequal, although Most Wo

Women Often Take Responsibility for the Emotional Work of a Household

Doing emotional work in a family means reacting and responding to other family members' emotions, alleviating pain and distress, and responding to and managing anger and frustration.

  • Diane Bell (1990) suggested that there is an 'economy of emotion' within all families and that running this economy is the responsibility of women.
  • She says managing family emotions is a bit like book-keeping - women balance the family's emotional budget.
  • Duncombe and Marsden (1995) found that women in families are often required to do housework and childcare, paid employment and emotional work - amounting to a 'triple shift' of work.
  • They found that married women were happier when their husbands shared some of the burden of emotional work, but women have the main responsibility for managing the whole family's emotions.
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Industrialisation led to the Creation of the 'Hous

  • Oakley (1974) thinks that the role of the housewife was socially constructed by the social changes of the Industrial Revolution, when people started going to work in factories instead of working at home.
  • Married women were often not allowed to work in factories. A new role of housewife was created for them.
  • Middle-class households had female servants to do domestic work. Working-class women did it themselves.
  • The cultural values that said women should be in charge of housework were so dominant that domestic work came to be seen as 'naturally' (biologically) the role of women.
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Decision-Making and Sharing of Resources can be Un

As well as looking at the division of labour and tasks in the home, sociologists have researched how power is shared in the home. The traditional role of the man holding power to make decisons was so widespread that the phrase, 'who wears the trousers' is often used to mean who's in charge. 

Edgell (1980) interviewed middle-class couples 

He found that men had decision-making control over things both husband and wife saw as important, whilst women had control over minor decisions. This is linked to the fact that men often brought higher earnings into a houshold.

Pahl (1989, 1993) researched money management by 100 dual-income couples

She concluded that the most common form of financial management was 'husband-controlled pooling', which she defined as money being shared, but the husband has the dominant role in how it's spent.

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Decision-Making and Sharing of Resources can be Un

Other studies look at the meanings that couples and families attach to control over money. They discovered that control over money in a relationship is often more about convenience than power. This approach is called the personal life perspective - these studies do not use traditional family norms and ideals as a background to judge participants.

  • Weeks et al (2001) found that couple tend to pool money in a joint account while keeping some money back in a personal account - they have sole control over the personal spending money. 
  • Carol Smart (2007) discovered that same-sex couples dont link control over money with inequality in the relationship - they organise their money based on what is best for them as a couple.  She argued that same sex couples don't have the same ideas about gender and money that heterosexual couples have traditionally held.
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Explanations for inequality are based about power

  • For functionalists, men and women still largely perform different tasks and roles within the family because its the most effective way of keeping society running smoothly.
  • Marxists, sociologists interpret the fact that men and women have different roles as evdience of the power of capitalism to control family life. They say women and men have unequal roles because capitalism works best that way. Even with more women working outside the home for equal hours to men, the capitalist class needs to promote women as 'naturally' caring and nuturing to ensure workers are kept fit, healthy and happy. This role for women is maintained ideologically through the media, e.g. in adverts. 
  • From a feminist perspective, inequality in household roles demonstrate inequality in power between men and women. A patriarchal society will produce unequal conjugal relationships because society's systems and values will ineveitably benefit men and the expense of women. 

So, all explanations of conjugal roles lead back to different theories about power in society. These explanations all agree that different roles for men and women in the family help to maintain the status quo in society - the disagreement between them is over who benefits. 

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Some Sociologist see child abuse in terms of power

Sociologists study the issue of child abuse by parents and carers in terms of power relationships. You need to be able to explain abuse as a form of power rather than explore details of abuse itself.

  • A parent or carer is able to abuse a child by manipulating the responisbilities and trust which go along with the role of parent or carer.
  • Families are private and separate from the rest of society. This makes it less likely for children to report abuse. 

1) Social policies have been adapted to give some protection to children. The Children Act 1989 was set up so the state can intervene in families if social workers are concerned about the childrens safety.

2) In the year 2013/14, almost 658000 children were referred to Social Services in England. In just under half of these cases, the main reason for referral was because the child was thought to be at risk of abuse or neglect.

3) In the same year, social workers put 59800 children in England under a Child Protection Plan - this allows social workers to monitor families to protect children from neglect and abuse. 

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Domestic violence affects many families in the UK

Research by Professor Elizabeth Stanko (2000) found that;

  • A women is killed by her current or former partner every 3 days in England and Wales.
  • There are 570000 cases of domestic violence reported in the UK every year.
  • An incident of domestic violence occurs in the UK every 6 - 20 seconds.

1) The Home Office estimates that 16% of all violent crimes in the UK is domestic violence.

2) In the year 2011/12, 7.3% of women and 5% of men in England and Wales had suffered from domestic abuse.

3) A 2012/13 survey found that non-physical abuse (emotional abuse or use of financial power to control a partner) was more common than physical abuse. This was true for both male and female victims.

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Radical feminist see domestic violence as a form o

Radical feminist theory says violence against women is treated differently to other violent crimes.

1) Dobash and Dobash (1979) found the police usually didn't record violent crime by husbands against their wives.

2) Since 1979, the police have set up specialist domestic violence units, but still the conviction rate is low compared to other forms of assault.

3) Before 1991, Bristish Law said a husband was entitled to have sex with his wife against her will. In 1991 **** law changed to say that a husband could be charged with ****** his wife.

4) Evidence like that above is used by radical feminist to support their argument that laws and social policies in society have traditionally worked to control women and keep mens power in society going.

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Radical feminist see domestic violence as a form o

Radical feminists believe that violence against women within the family is a form of power and control.

1) The social climate helps to maintain the situation by making women feel ashamed and stigmatised if they talk about the violence. The shame and stigma are part of the ideology of patriarchy - the school of thoughts says that women should know their place.

2) Shame also comes from the idea that women should know better - they shouldn't get involved with violent men in the first place. There is the tendency to blame the victim. 

3) Dobash and Dobash found that most women who left violent partners returned in the end. This was because of fear of being stigmatised - and because they were financially dependant on their partner.

4) Abusive partners often condition their victim into thinking that nobody cares and that there is nowhere to go. The pressure not to leave an abusive partner comes from the relationship as well as society. 

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Radical feminist see domestic violence as a form o

Radical feminism is critisised for over emphasising the power of men. 

There are two main criticisms of radical feminist theory of the family;

  • It over emphasises the place of domestic violence in the family. Functionalist argue that most families operate harmoniously, while postmodern theory argues that individuals have much more choice and control to avoid, leave or reshape their family relationships.
  • It presents men as all-powerful and women as powerless when in reality women often hold some power over men. The journalist Melanie Phillips (2003) highlights the fact that women abuse men too and male victims are often ignored by society and police. The pressure group Families Need Fathers campaigns for men to have equal rights in Family and Child Law. 
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Social trends indicate more variety of families an

Official government statistics clearly show that the variety of family types has increased in Britain since the mid 20th century. There is now no such thing is the 'British family' - there are several kinds of family structure out there.

1) Two of the biggest increases in household type have been in single-person household and lone-parent family households. The vast majority of lone-parent households are matrifocal families.

2) Single-person households increase by 500000 from 2003 - 2013 - this rise could be related to the increasing number of divorce people and a rise in people over 65 living alone.

3) The fastest growing household type is multi-family households - these households increase by 56% between 2004 - 2014 to 313000. This trend is partly linked to the growing number of beanpole families - grandparents might live with one of the grown-up children and some of their grandchildren in a multi-family household.

4) Cohabitation doubled from 1996 - 2012 to 2,9 million couples - this number is still growing.

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Social trends indicate more variety of families an

There are two overall patterns:

1) There's been an increase in the diversity of families in the UK. There are more different kinds of family.

2) The nuclear family is still the most common type of family, though the proportion of nuclear families is going down.

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Rapoport and Rapoport (1982) Identified Five Types

  • Organisational diversity - differences in the way familes are structured, e.g. whether they're nuclear, extended, reconstituted or any other form.
  • Cutlural diversity - differences that arise from the different norms and values of different cultures.
  • Class diversity - different views are often held by different parts of socirty concerning families. For example, more affluent families are more likely to send their children too boarding school than poorer families, leading to a different relationship between the parents and children.
  • Life-Course diversity - diversity caused by the different stages ppeople have reached in their lives. E.g. family relationships tend to be different for newly-weds with children, childless couples, and people with grown-up children.
  • Cohort diversity - differences created by the historical periods the family have lived through. For example, children who reached maturity in the 1980s may have remained dependent of their paarents for longer due to high unemployment.
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Increasing Individual and Personal Choice in Linke

Giddens (1992) argues that individual choice dictates family relationships - he calls this the 'individualisation thesis'.

1) Rigid class, gender and family roles used to stop people from choosing their own life-course - he argues that these fixed roles no longer exist and people are free to make their own decisions.

2) People do not have to stay in relationships because of fixed social expectations - they are free to separate and go on to form different types of families, e.g. lone families and multi-family households. 

Postmodernists claim that there is no longer a single dominant family structure - postmodern society is highly diverse and its diversity is increasing. They see this diversity and fragmentation as the new norm.

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Increasing Individualism and Personal Choice in Li

  • Improvements in women's rights and the availability of conception have resulted in people having far more choice in their type of relationship.
  • People now tend to create their relationships to suit their own needs rather than following the  traditional values of religion or the government.
  • Their relationship only last as long as their needs are met - creating even greater diversity and instability.
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Fewer People Marry and More People Live Together I

Marriage rates have fallen since the early 20th century. In 2009, the lowest number of marriages took place in the England and Wales since records began. However, the marriage rate began to increase again in 2010.

This does NOT mean a decline in family life, though:

1) While marriage rates have fallen, there has been an increase in the number of adults cohabiting in the last few decades. There were nearly 1 million cohabiting couples in the UK 2014 than there were in 2001.

2) Duncan and Philips (2013) have discovered that the number of people who are in a serious relationship but who are not cohabiting or married may be as many as half of the single population of Great Brrtain. They are classed as 'living apart together'. 

3) Social trends statistics show that living with a partner doesn't mean you won't get married - it often just means a delay in tying the knot.

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Fewer People Marry and More People Live Together I

4) People are getting married later in life - between 1971 and 2011, the average age of men and women getting married in England and Wales increased by 8 years.

5) Men tend to die before women. Widowed pensioners make up a lot of single-person households. The population of the UK is ageing, so this helps explain why there are so many single-person households.

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Divorce and Separation are Common in England and W

1) There's been a steady rise in the divorce rate in most modern industrial societies.

2) More than 40% of all marriages in England and Wales end in divorce.

3) Since 2000, the percentage of marriages ending in divorce has fallen - this is related to people marrying later in their life-course and the increasing number of couples who cohabit before getting married.

4) Serial monogamy (have several serioud sexual relationships one after another) in increasingly common in the UK - a significant number of divorces are granted to people who has been married and divorced before.

5) Separation often precedes divorce - in 2011, 32% of divorces secured by men and 22% by women followed 2 years of separation. In the same year, 16% of divorces for men and 9% for women were granted after 5 years of separation.

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Divorce and Separation are Common in England and W

There are several social, cultural and political factors that explain why divorce is increasing in the UK:

  • Divorce has become easier to obtain - it's now more available.
  • Divorce is more socially acceptable.
  • Women may have higher expectations of marriage, and better employment opportunities may make them less financially dependent on their husbands.
  • Marriages are increasingly focused on individual emotional fulfilment.

The link between divorce and marriage breakdown isn't completely straightforward. You can't assume that fewer divorces in the past meant happier marriages - a marriage can break down but the couple still stay married and live together. This is called an empty-shell marriage.

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Population Size is Affected by Births, Deaths and

Demography is the study of the statistics that measure the size and growth of a population (e.g. birth and death rates).

1) A population generally increases when birth rates are higher than death (mortality) rates. Low fertility or high mortality rates lead to a decline in population, as too few children are born to replace those dying.

2) Immigration into a country causes the population to increase, while emigration away from a country decreases the population.

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Birth and Fertility Rates have Decreased

The birth rate has fallen since the early 20th century. In 2014 there were nearly 700 000 births in England and Wales - there were 1 million in 1901. Fertility was unusually high after the First and Second World Wars and in the 1960s - those born in these periods are called baby-boomers. The birth rate fluctuated since the mid-1970s and is now falling.

  • The total fertility rate (TFR) is the average number of children a woman would have if she followed the current fertility rates throughout her life. The TFR has generally decreased in England and Wales since the early 20th century - in 2014, it was 1.83 children per women. There were unusual peaks in fertility during the baby booms of the 20th century.
  • Completed family size (CFS) is the average number of children for a woman born in a specific year. In England and Wales, for example, a woman born in 1968 has a CFS of 1.92 children compared to 2.34 for woman born in 1941.
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Birth and Fertility Rates have Decreased

People are Having Fewer Children and Having them Later in Life

Government statistics for England and Wales show that childbearing trends have changed in recent decades.

  • People are having fewer children. The average number of dependent children per family was 2.0 in 1971, compared to 1.7 in 2011.
  • Women are having children later. The average age of a woman at the birth of her first child was 24 in 1971, compared to 28 in 2013.
  • More people are not having children at all - 9% of women born in 1945 were childless at age 45, compared to 20% of women born in 1966.


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Birth and Fertility Rates have Decreased

1) Social changes have influences these trends. Contraception is more readily available and women's roles are changing. The emphasis on the individual in post-industrial society is a key factor. 

2) Children are expensive and time-consuming, and couples may choose to spend their time and money in other ways. The conflict between wanting a successful working life and being a mum has made many women put off havinf kids until later.

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Mortality and Death Rates have also Fallen Dramati

  • Infant Mortality Rates, or IMR (the number of deaths of children aged 0 to 1 per 1000 live births), and childhood mortality dramatically improved in the first half of the 20th century. In 1901, 16.6% of boys and 13.6% of girls in England and Wales died before their first brithday - infant mortality is now less than 0.5%.
  • Adult mortality has also family - the number of deaths per year has stayed roughly the same since 1901, but the increase in population in the 20th century means that the proportion of deaths has actually fallen. 

1) Medical advancements in the second half of the 20th century reduced mortality - the introduction of vaccines, blood transfusions, antibiotics, and better care for pregnant women meant that more people survived serious illness and childbirth. The creation of the NHS in 1948 made health care free and accessible to all.


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Mortality and Death Rates have also Fallen Dramati

2) The government improved public health by regulating food and drinking-water quality and enforcing laws to improve cleanliness. Improved public awareness of how infections are transmitted also led to a decline in disease.

3) McKeown (1972) thought that better nutrition was a major factor in improving mortality rates in the UK because people were more able to fight off infection. Critics of McKeown point out that cases of some diseases (like measles) rose as nurition improved.

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The Overall Population of the UK is ageing

Life expectancy is the average length of time a person is expected to live. Falling mortality rates have led to increased life expectancy- 1 in 3 babies born in 2013 will have a life expectancy of 100. Falling infant mortality is largely responsible for this improvement, but other factors linked to public health have also contributed to the trend. 

The UK has an ageing population 

A population ages when the number and proportion of older people increases. This causes the median age of the population (the age when half of the population is younger and half is older) to increase. A population needs a TFR of 2.1 to replace the exisitng population- this is called the replacement level. 

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The Overall Population of the UK is ageing

  • The proportion of over 65s  in the UK is increasing- almost a quarter of the UK population is expected to be over 65 in 2035. The proportion of over 85s in the UK as doubled since 1985
  • Improvement in mortality rates and increasing life expectancy mean that more people now live past the age of 65
  • When the TFR falls below replacement level, an ageing population develops. The decline in fertility rates since the late 1970s to below replacement level means that fewer children are being born
  • As a result, the proportion of young people in the UK is decreasing compared to older age groups. The proportion of older people in the UK is also set ti increase as the baby boomers born after the SEcond world war reach their late 8s and in the 1960s baby boomers move into thier 60 and 70s.
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an ageing population changes the burden of care in

  • Society has a responsibility to care fro the vulnerable (e.g. children and older people)- this responsibility is called the burden of care , and it puts pressure on resources. 
  • The burden of care shifts towards older people in an ageing population- at the same time, there is a decline in the proportion of working - age people. This increases the dependency ratio and the young struggle to meet the needs of older. 
  • Hirsch(2005) suggests that people will either have to work into their 60s and 70s or pay more taxes during thier working life to contribute towards the cost of health and social care in later life. He argues that single pensioners compete for housing with single young people. This makes house prices rise. Hirsch points out that older people often own thier own homes, but young people have fewer asset (posession and property) so they lose out. 

in the 1980s, the government comissioned the Griffiths Report  on care in the community. The report looked at the long - term care of mentally ill, disabled and older members of society with the aim of making it more effecient. 

  • Care of older people leaving hospital used to be carried out by various NHS services- this repsosnsiblity was shifted to local council social services. This was part of a movement away from institutionalisation (placing people in group homes, hospitals etc.) Towards care in the home. 
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an ageing population changes the burden of care in

  • Delivering more minor health and social care in the home has improved the independence and comfort of older people who do not want to move into retirement homes or do not need 24hour care. However since the financial crisis in 2008, the government has given less money to local councils- this has resulted in cuts to services. 
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poverty in old age is linked to social class, gend

Ageism (discrimination against older people becuase of their age) tends to increase in ageing populations- The needs of older people are often seen as a problem. Ageism also involves underestimating the value of older people to society. 

  • Peter townsend (1979)  studied Poverty  in the UK- he dsicovered that there was a higher proportion of older people in poverty compared to younger people. He argued that an underclass of pensioners develop becuase older people could no longer rely on income from employment . 
  • People with higher status during their working lives were less likely to be in poverty in old age than people who were in low- status job (who are more likely to have suffered unemployment and illnes during their working life.)
  • He linked this idea to social class- people who were in poverty throughout thier working life were less likley to have savings and private pensions to support themselves in old age
  • Pilcher (1995)  argues both class and gender affect income in retirement. Women often have smaller pensions becuase they might take time away from work while still of working age to care for children. 
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Net migration has significantly increased since WW

in the UK Net migration (number moving in minus number moving out) reached a high of 330,000 in the year 2014-15. The foriegn - born population of England and wales nearly doubled between 1991 and 2011. 

  • Before the Second world war, the foreign- born population of the UK was very low. After the war a labour shortage prompted the government to encourage Polish soldiers to move to the UK
  • The British Nationality Act of 1948 made it easier for citzens of the British commonwealth  (countries that used to be part of the British Empire) to settle in the UK. This led to a wave of mass immigration. 
  • Until the 1980s, emigration from the UK to countries like Australia and the USA largely matched immigration into britain. However mass immigration in the 1990s outripped emigration and net migration rose rapidly. 
  • In the late 1990s war and political conflicts in South Africa, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Sri Lanka and Kosovo led to an increase in applications for asylum (protection) in the UK- applications peaked in 2002 at just over 84,000
  • Between 2004 and 2007, new countires joined the EU and free movement (allwoing Europens to move freely within the EU) was introduced. New EU migrants arrived the UK and contributed to rising net migration.
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increasing Net migration has affected the structur

  • The impact of low fertility rates on population size in the UK is outwieghed by the impact of net migration. 
  • Migrants decrease the avergae age of a country, as they tend to be young and of working age. Immigration decreases the dependency ratio by increaisng the number of people able to support children and older people.
  • The fertility rate for mothers not born in the UK is higher than that of mothers born in the UK. While this increases the dependency ratio bu increasing the number of children in the population, the impact is temporary becuase children of migrants will reach working and go on because the dependency ratio.
  • Increasing net migration has also led to an increase in multi-family households. 
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Globalization has increased international migratio

Globalisation happens when nations become more connected and barriers seperating societies are broken down- this leads to more international migration and more diverse reasons for migration. 

  • Since the 1990s , British society has become far more ethically diverse- migrants have brought different cultures and religions to the UK , which has created a multicultural society.
  • Globalisation results in different reasons for migration- over half of the vias granted by the UK Government between June 2014 and June 2015 were for educational purposes while more than a quarter were granted economic migrants (people moving for work).

Eriksen (2007) argues that migrants in a globalised world tend to form a transational identies- they do not belong to a single country but a network of countries across the world. They are less likely to assimilate (learn the language of a country or adapt to it's cultutre) becuase they do not see it as a permanent home. Immigration becomes a political issue- governments have to decide whether to promote assimilation or accept multiculturalism. 

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Functionalist Think that the growth in diversity h

  • The functionalist Robert Chester (1985) admits that there has been some growth in family diveristy, but believes that the nuclear family remains the dominant family structure. ]
  • He argues that statisitcs show a greater increase in diversity than is actually happening. This is because UK society has an ageing poulation- the proportion of older people is increasing. This increases the number of people who are at a stage in thier life when they're not in nuclear family. 
  • Chester has also suggested that nuclear families are becoming less traditoinal and more symmetrical better fit modern living. 
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The New Right think Family Diversity is Caused by

1) New Right theorists believe that family diversity is the result of a decline in traditional values. They see it as a threat to the traditional nuclear family and blame it for antisocial behaviour and crime.

2) Murray (1989) suggests that single-mother families are a principle cause of crime and social decay; because of the lack of a male role model and authority figure in the home.

3) The New Right believe that state benefits should be cut and social policy targeted to discourage family diversity and promote marriage and the nuclear family.

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The Sociology Personal Life Focuses on Individual

The Sociology of personal life looks at families from a different angle - it focuses on what the families themselves see as important in their lives rather than what sociologists believe is important.

1) The individualisation thesis states that people don't have to conform to strict family roles. Vanessa May (2013) argues that it is based on an idealised view of freedom of choice. It ignores the differing levels of choice available to those who are not white, middle-class males - social identity affects ability to choose.

2) Carol Smart (2007) says that the term 'family' is often linked to traditional ideas about family. She thinks the term 'personal life' is better for studying family relationships, because it includes the newr kinds of relationships that exist in postmodern society.

3) Smart offers an alternative to the individualisation thesis - the connectedness thesis argues that individual choices are influenced by relationships and past experiences. Class and gender also influence our options where structural inequalities exist.

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The Sociology of Personal Life Focuses on Individu

4) Smart and May both accept that family diversity has increased, but they believe that the importance of individual choice is more limited than postmodernists suggest.

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Ethnicity can Influence family type and household

Immigration has had an impact of family diversity in England and Wales - the 2011 census found that a higher proportion of people who were born abroad lived in multi-family households, compared to people born in the UK. Also, in England and Wales, those born in Bangladesh or Pakistan were most likely to live in extended families with dependdent children.

A study of ethnic minorities in the UK by Modood et al (1997) found that:

  • Whites and African-Caribbeans were most likely to be divorced, Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and African Asians were most likely to be married.
  • African-Caribbean households were the most likely to be lone-parent families - there is thought to be a higher proportion of matrifocal families in African-Caribbean households in the UK.
  • South Asian families are traditionally extended families, but there are more nuclear family households than in the past. Extended kinship links stay strong and often reach back to India, Pakistan or Bangladesh.
  • However, there's diversity within each ethnic group.
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Class and Sexuality Also Affect which types of fam

1) Eversley and Bonnerjea (1982) found that middle-class areas in the UK have a higher than average proportion of nuclear families. Inner-city working-class areas are more likely to have a higher proportion of lone-parent households.

2) Weeks. Donovan et al (1999) found that there had been an increase in the number of gay or lesbian households since the 1980s. This is due to changes in attitudes and legislation.

3) Fertility treatments have allowed gay and lesbian couples (and single and older women) to have children when they wouldn't have been able to before. This means that family structures exist that were impossible in the past.

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Some Sociologists say you can choose who to includ

The Postmodernist Beck (1992) believes many people now live in 'negotiated families' - family units that vary according to needs of the people in them. Negotiated families are more equal than nuclear families, but less stable.

Some Sociologists argue that groups who do not fit the traditional structure of a nuclear family can often decide who they consider as family - same-sex couples and lone-parent families can choose supportive people to be part of their family.

  • Stacey (1998) has highlighted that existence of the 'divorce-extended family' where mostly female members of an extended family stay connected by choice after divorce. A woman may choose to stay connected with her former mother-in-law or form a new relationship with her ex-husband's new partner. This is a result of greater individualism among women - they are able to form a new family structure based on their own needs.
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Some Sociologists say you can choose who to includ

  • Weeks, Donovan et al (1999) suggested that family commitment is now viewed as a matter of ongoing negotiation rather than something that lasts forever once entered into. Weeks (2000) believes that personal morality has become an individual choice, rather than a set of values influenced by religion or dictated by society. He sees modern liberal attitudes towards.
  • Weston (1992) has observed that same-sex couples often form a 'family of choice' by surrounding themselves with supportive members of their friends and family.
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Childhood is Partly a Social Construct

1) Sociologists say childhood is not only a biological stage of development but a social construct as well. The idea of how children are different from adults in their values, behaviour and attitudes isn't the same everywhere in the world, and it hasn't been the same for all times. In other words, it's not universal - different societies, with differemt cultures and values, can view childhood in different ways. 

2) An example of this is how the age that you can leave education in Britain has moved from 12 to 18 in the last century. It would now be not only socially unacceptable, but also illegal, to leave school and work full-time at the age of 12.

3) The minimum legal age for marriage in Britain rose to 16 in 1929 - before that, girls could be married at 12 and boys at 14 (although in England and Wales they needed parental permission). Effectively, the age at which childhood ends and adulthood begins has moved in line with social attitudes.

4) Jane Pilcher (1995) highlighted the separateness of childhood from other life phases. Children have different rights and duties from adults, and are regulated and proctected by special laws.

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Aries says a Cult of childhood developed after ind

Sociologist Philippe Aries' work on the construction of childhood is a classic study.

Aries (1962) looked at paintings

Aries said that the concept of childhood in Western Eurpean sociry has only existed in the last 300 years. Before this, in medieval society, a child took on the role of an adult as soon as it was physically able. Children in medieval paintings look like mini-adults.

With industrialisation, social attitudes changed and people began to value children as needing specialised care and curturing. The importance of the child reinforced the important of the role of  the housewife - it was the housewife's job to look after children.

This 'cult of the child', as Aries referred to it, first developed in the middle classes and over time has become a part of working-class values.

Although Aries' work is very important, he as been criticised - e.g. Pollack (1983) says that Aries' work looks weak because it uses paintings for its main evidence.

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Functionalists see the position of children in soc

Some functionalist sociologists, including Shorter (1975), make the 'march of progress' argument:

1) Society has a functional need for better-educated critizens and lower infant mortality rates.

2) So school leaving ages have gone up and child protection had improved.

3) That means that the current postion of children is the result of positive progression from the past.

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The status of children has changed - society is mo

1)  Donzelot (1977) has observed that theories of child development changed in the 19th century - they began to argue that children needed to be protected and supervised. He linked this to growing medical interest in childhood development.

2) Infant mortality has dramatically decreased since the early 20th century. In 1901 just over 150 children aged under died per 1000 children, but in 2012, this rate had fallen to 3.9 deaths per 1000 children.

3) Families are also getting smaller. Fewer children die in infancy and families are having fewer children on average. More attention is devoted to each child and more money is being spent on their development, both within the family and wider society.

4) This is linked to the 'march of progress' argument, which suggests that families are increasingly child-focused - parents want a better life for their children than they have experienced themselves.

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children are protected by special laws

  • Children are subject to laws that restrict thier sexual behaviour, access to alcohol and tobacco, and the amount of paid work they can perform. These act in addition to the laws that affect adults.
  • Children are offered additional protection by the Children Act 1989, which allows them to be taken away from thier parents by the state if it judges the parents to be incapable or unsuitable.
  • But orginisations such as the National Society for the prevention of cruelty to children (the NSPCC) argue that they need greater protection. An NSPCC report by Cawson et al (200)  said that 16% of children aged under 16 have exeprienced sexual abuse during childhood, and 25% of children experinced Physical Violence.
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child liberationists Believe that society oppresse

some see the increased protection of cildren and thier seperation fro adult life is oppressive.

Diana Gittins (1985)- argues that there is an ' age patriarchy'- adults maintain authority over children. They achieve this using enforced dependency through 'protection' from paid employment, legal controls over what children can and can't do, and in extreme cases abuse and neglect.

Hockey and James (1993)- noted that childhood was a stage that miost children wished to escape from and which many resisted. 

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Childhood varies according to class, gender and et

  • Children living in poverty tend to suffer from poorer health , a lack of basic necessities , lower achievememt in school, poorer life chances, and higher incidences of neglect and abuse. Children from low income households are more likely to live in poverty - in 2013-14, 17% of children in the UK were living in Low-income households. 
  • June statham and Charlie Owens (2007) fond that black and dual-heritage children were more likely to end up in care than white or asian children. 
  • Ethnicity may infleunce where a child lives, For example in England and Wals in 2011, 22% of white brtish people lived in rural areas, cmpared to 1% of bangladeshis and Pakistanis.
  • Julia Brannen (1994)said that asian families were much stricter with thier daughters than sons.
  • Hillman et al (1990) studied children aged 7 to 15 and founf that parents genrally give boys more freedom than girls to travel around thier local areas , unaccompanied, cross roads and go out after dark. 
  • Bonke (1999) has discovered that girls perform more households chores than boys- this trend is particularly true in lone-parent households. 
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ideas of childhood are different in different cult

Wagg(1992) argues that the construction of childhood varies across different historical and cultural societies. Because of these cultural differences, children are not always seen as vulnerable and can have a similar status to adults. 

Punch (2001) found that children growing up in the countryside in Boliva  were given responsibilities and work to perform at the age of 5. This ocntrasts with Western Attitudes  towards child labour that have developed since industrialisation. 

Katz (2004) has found that Sudanese children have far more freedom to explore and travel around their local area than children in Western societies. 

Children in less industrilised societies are often treated differently to children living in western societites. Some argue that ideas of western childhood are projected onto different cultures. 

Judith Ennew(1986) argued that humanitarian  and welfare work  is often based on the belief that western childhood is the 'correct childhood'. The idea that childhood should seperate, more innocent stage of life can be projected throught this work onto cultures that may have different views on the needs of children.

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British society today is more child- focused than

  • 1) children are now recognised as having unique human rights. The united Nations Convention on the rights of the child was ratified (agreed to ) in the 1990 by all the UN members (except the USA and Somalia)
  • 2) in Britain the child support Act 1991 established the child support Agency. This gave children the legal right to be financially supported by their parents, wether the parents are living with the child or not. This Act also made courts have to ask for the child's point of view in custody cases and take the child'd view into consideration. 

Advertisers recognise the financial power  of children- This is often referred to as ' Pester power'. They advertise a product to children because they know the children will Pester  their parents to buy the product. 

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Sociologists have looked at the impact of Postmode

  • Jenks (2005) argues that the 20th century was focused on the ' Futurity' of the child- children symbolised future potential and were the main concern of society. Adults  sacrificed their needs to protect and nurture children. 
  • Also believes that adult relationships are now less dependable due to divorce becoming more common- adults prioritise thier relationship with children rather than investing trust in relationships with friends and partners. 
  • Adults see children through a lens of Nostalgia- Children Represent  alot of things that society has lost over time (like innocence). This has led to increased protection and surveillance of children. 
  • Critics of Jenks' theory say he makes too many generalisations. 
  • Palmer (2007) believes children are now experiencing ' Toxic childhood' - childrens lives ar now more violent, stressful and sexually active, which leads to teenage pregnancy, obesity, self -harm and addiction. She also argues that childrens development has been damaged by the increasing speed of technological advancement.
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Sociologists Disagree over the Future of Childhood

Neil Postman (1994) believes that childhood is disappearing. 

  • Children grow up very quickly and experience things only available to adults in the past. 
  • This is due to a shift  from print and literacy culture to Vision culture. Lack of literacy is no longer a barrier to the adult world- can acces it through watching TV. 
  • He argues that our defintions of 'childhood' and ' adulthood' will need to change soon. 
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Sociologists Disagree over the Future of Childhood

Nick Lee (2005)  disagees with Postman

  • He agrees that childhood has become an Ambigious are, but argues that parents have financial control and children can only spend as much as their parents allow. 
  • So the Paradox of childhood is one of dependence and independence at the same time. 
  • Opie(1993) argues that  child hood culture still exists independently of adult influence 
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Good stuff

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