Changes from extended to nuclear family
- Parsons -
- Family has changed its structure over time.
- In pre-industrialised societies an extended family system is made easier to carry out the wide range of functions - grandparents take care of small children, children care for elderly or sick people.
- Societies moving from pre industrialised to industrial societies - extended system no longer needed =
- workforce in industrial societies needs to be geographically mobile.
- Increasingly based on achieved status - conflicts between generations, son may have higher status job than father, disruption of normal hierarchy.
- Change in structure from extended families to isolated nuclear family - typical family structure in industrial society.
- Advantages of nuclear family=
- Smaller family unit best fit for industrialised society.
- Structual isolation from extended kin to husband and wife bond strengthened.
- Family becomes streamlined and specialised - structual differentiation.
- Reproduction of next generation.
- Stabilisation of adult personalities.
- Loss of functions does not represent demise of the family.
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Decline of extended family and emergence of nuclea
- Young and Willmott -
- extended family networks still in existence in traditional working class.
- strong extended family network played an important role in mutual help and assisstance for working class people.
- families had been rehoused in a new council estate - privatisation occured, family life became more home-centred, based on nuclear family.
- wives lost regular contact with mothers and became more dependent on husbands.
- husbands cut off from social contacts - visitng pubs with workmates, so became more involved with domestic activities - symmetrical family.
- changes to the family has occured through stratified diffusion - new ideas of family life initiated by higher social classes, gradually filtered down to lower classes.
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Criticisms of Young and Willmott / Parsons
- March of progress - fail to address negative aspects of changes.
- Laslett argues no historical evidence that extended family ever existed.
- Concept of stratified diffusion implies it working class automatically follow norms.
- Ethnocentric view - focuses on white version of events.
- Feminists attacked young and Willmott's concept of symmetrical family - little empirical evidence that symmetry has been reached in families.
- Fletcher disputes family has lost many functions - families still important and their functions have increased in detail and importance - socialising children, welfare for family members and economically.
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Evidence that extended family is still important
- Devine 1992 -
- degree of privitisation of family has been exaggerated - most couples had regular contact with kin.
- Geographical mobility not destroyed kinship networks, as cars and telephones enabled relatives to stay in touch.
- Role of extended families in geographical mobility shows people continue to use kin as a source of information and contacts for finding houses and jobs.
- McGlone et al -
- Families remain very important to people.
- Families remain an important source of help and support, fmaily contacts still maintained.
- Core of family doesn't just include parents and children, grandparents core as well.
- Differences between social classes remain significant.
- Classic working class extended family continues to exist.
- Foster 1991 -
- adults happy to live only few streets away from their parents and close relatives and visited them regularly.
- Ties between mother and daughter are strong.
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Key Study - Nicola Charles
- Social networks and family life are in decline - people choose not to subscribe to the traditional rules governing behaviour, instead create their own patterns of living.
- Method - to understand effects of social change on intimate and kin relationships, look at importance of kinship in providing social support amd sense of identity.
- Key Findings - patterns of marriage and parenting reflected national trends - in the 60's most of the population lived in nuclear family units, by 2002 - increase in number of people without partners.
- Over half were married
- 5.5% cohabiting
- Many in relationships without children.
- in the 60's, 20% of households consisted of classic extended families - three generations shared a home.
- in 2002 only 0.5% of people lived like that.
- most people lived near their kin - maintained regular contact.
- With an increase in the number of people living away from families - frequency of contact had not declined.
- Parents maintained strong connections with their children - children did not have strong relationships with each other.
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Key Study - Nicola Charles
- Working-class people more likely to live near families.
- Fathers and sons less likely to work in the same trades and occupations.
- in 2002 30% of women were in work - dynamic social change.
- Mother daughter relationship at the heart of the family.
- Women saw mothers frequently - often relied on their family to undertake childcare duties.
- Middle-class men from minority ethnic groups - more likely to be highly involved in family networks than their working class counterparts.
- Men in these groups - providers for their families, men notable by their absence from families and from work.
- Women in working-class areas more likely to tolerate a son cohabiting a girlfriend than to accept a daughters boyfriend.
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