Family Diversity

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  • Created by: Lilly
  • Created on: 07-01-13 19:41

Growing Diversity

Family diversity: the growth of variety in the structure and nature of the family.

Micheal Anderson 1980 (Historian)

  • Argues that there has always been family diversity, but many sociologists of the family before the 1980s assumed that family diversity was not the norm

Julia Brannen 2003

  • The eanpole family is now typical in GB
  • Beanpole family:  A family in which links between generations are strong but relations with aunts and uncles are weaker than those with grandparents


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The Cereal Packet Family

  • Idea created by Leach 1967
  • The idea that a single family type is dominant.

Ann Oakly 1982 (Feminist)

  • Marketing and advertising often tries to sell products to what it sees as the typical family.
  • Portrays the conventional family as 'nuclear families, composed of legally married couples, choosing to parent one or more children

Barrie Thorne 1992 (Feminist)

  • Believes that gender, generation and class results in widly varying experiences of family life, many of which diverge from the nuclear family with the male breadwinner and female housewife.


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The Rapports 1982- Types of Diversity

1.Cultural diversity

  • Refers to the differences in lifestyle between families in different ethnic, national and religious backgrounds.


  • A group of people born over the same period of time

3.Organised Diversity

  • Involves variation in family structure, household type, kinship networks and labour divisions.

4.Class Diversity

  • Refers to the differences between, working, middle and upper class- way they behave, the way the children are socialised.

5.Stages in a life-cycle

  • Differences between newlymarried couples and those with dependent children




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Graham Alan & Graham Crow 2001- reasons for divers

  • Believe that diversification has continued
  • No longer fixed set of stages in the life-cycle & each family follows a more unpredictable course, complicated by cohabitation, divorce and remarriage.
  • Reflects greater inividual choice and the 'seperation of sex, marriage and parenthood.'
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Reasons for Diversification

  • Increase in lone parent families- due to incresinf divorce, liberal divorce laws
  • Rising divorce rates- caused by factos such as changes to divorce laws -The divorce reform Act 1969, rising acceptance of alternatives & divorce
  • Acceptabnce of cohabitation- decline in the influence of religion= secularization
  • Declining marriage rates- people marry later and an increasing majority of people choose not to marry at all
  • Rise in the number of step families- as a result of increasing divorce.
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New types of diversity

-New types of diversity in addition to those identified by the Rapports, have developed as a result of liberalisation in attitudes to sexuality and introduction of new reproductive technologies (test tube babies)

Weeks, Heaphey &Donovan 1999

  • Increase in Gay/lesbian couples contributes to incresing diversity
  • An important social change is taking place in which whom we see to be part of our family is more important than ties of blood/marriage
  • Friendship networks can now function as if they were families- emphasis on shift towards induvidual choice rather than duties and obligations of family life






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Family Diversity and lone parenthood

  • Lone parent families- through divorce, seperation ro death of spouse
  • Increasing number of lone parent families

Allan & Crow 2001

  •  Explain the increse in lone parenthood in terms of 2 factors:

               1) increase in marital breakdown

               2) rise in births to unmarried mothers

  • both factors can be explained in terms of increasing acceptane of diversity and type of family life

David Morgan 1994

  • Sees te changing relationshop between men & women as important, greater equality between the sexes making women economically autonomous



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Negative effects of loneparentfamilies

  • Children becomiong delinquent and turning to drugs and crime
  • Children under achieving in education
  • Greater change of living in poverty
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Ethnicity & Family Diversity

  • Ethnic groups= groups of people in a population regarded by themselves and others as culturally distinctive, have comon origin
  • Ethnicity may be related to religion, nationality, language, lifestyle
  • Result of migration
  • Add to Family Diversity

Bhatti 1999- The study of Asian Families

  • Family loyalty strong
  • Maintain traditional family practices, e.g. Izzat- principle of family honour- taken seriously
  • can be argued they add to diversity, by maintaining traditional nuclear families but with strong extended kinship networks
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Decline of the conventional family

Dench, Gavron & Young 2008

  • Study in Bethnal Green, following up Willmott and Young's study in 1950s
  • Found earlier family patterns of working class, of living in nuclear families with strong kinship networks, replaced by a new individualsim which cohabitation, divorce, seperation and lone parenthood were all more common





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The rise of teh Neo-conventional family

Robert Chester 1985

  • Recognised there was family diversity, didn't see it as important or a negative
  • Neo-conventional= A type of family where both parents are earning money (Dual earner)
  • The only important change was the move away from the conventional nuclear familiy structure to the neo-conventional strucutre
  • Argues that people do not wish to move away from the nuclear family was it is still ideal
  • The decline in the nuclear family is due to the life-cycle (Talcott Parons 1954) many people who aren't in the nuclear families are wither divorced, widows or young men. However they will be part of a nuclear family in the future or have been once
  • New Right thought the nuclear family was being threatened, Chester argued that it wasn't and the main features of family life have remained fairly simliar:

 -people still getting married

 -Children, mostly, reared by natural parents

 -Most live in household of married parents

 -Most people stay married







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Elizabeth Silvia & Carol Smart 1999

  • Agree with Chester
  • Cohabiting/married couples-with or without children remain important in contemporary family life.

Jennifer Somerville 2000

  • Agrees the nuclear family decline can be exaggerated
  • But also emphasies there are important changes taking place:

-sex outside marriage is more common

-More couples choose not to have children

-Increasing number of long parent families

-Greater diversity as a result of variations in family lfie and different ethnic groups



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