Sociology - Diversity

Family Diversity 

  • Created by: Shannon
  • Created on: 11-05-14 12:41

Diversity 1

Household: One o more people share a dwelling, they may or may not be related

Family: People who are related by blood or marriage but do not need to live together

Cerel Packet Family: A typical nuclear family including parent's and children

  • Nuclear family has ben declining in the UK for the past 30 years
      • Other types of households and families have become more important
        • Same sex families
        • Singletons
        • Reconstituted or step families
        • Cohabiting couples and their children
        • Single parent families
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Diversity 2


- Argued that the nuclear family is no longer the main family type, and that a range of alternative family types and households exist and are growing in sixe, especially single parent families and reconstituted families

- They celebrate the fact that people now have freedom and choice, and no longer have to live in a certain type of family 

They identify five main types of diversity:

  • Organisational - Variations in family structure, household type and the division of labour e.g. single parent, dual income, reconstituted, cohabiting, same sex and singleton
  • Cultural - The differences in lifestyles between families of different ethincs 
  • Social Class - Different classes may have an impact on relationships between adults and the way children are socialised 
  • Life Cycle - Different types of households in which someone is likely to live at different times of their lives
  • Cohort - The period of history that we live through may influence our experiences of family life
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Diversity 3

Social Class and Family Diversity

  • Middle class parents are more likely to use nannies or au pairs to look after their children whilst they go to work. Working class parents are more likely to use families and friends 
  • Their are differences in discipling children
      • Wokring class parents may be more likley to use physical punishment
      • Middle class parents may be more likely to use verbal punishment
  • Children from the upper class are more likely to attend fee-paying independent schools such as boarding schools - PRIVATELY EDUCATED
  • Working class parents usually rely on the state 
  • Eversley and Bonnerjea - Working class marry earlier, less likely to own home therefore less mobile 
  • Jackson and Marsden - Deffered gratification - Middle Class. Immediate gratification - working class
  • Bernstein - Elaborated and Restricted 
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Diversity 4

Ethnicity and Family Diversity

  • Asian Families
      • Tend to be patriarchal and multi- generational
      • More likely to have extended families
      • More segregated roles 
  • Afro-Carribean Families
      • Single parent families
      • Mother is the bread winner

8% of white and 7% of black households were headed by an unmarried cohabiting couple compared to just 2% of British Asian household 

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Diversity 5

Life Cycle - The different types of families and households an individual is likely to expereince in their life

Robert Chester

  • Argues that for most people the nuclear family remains the most typical family type
  • Most alternatives are temporary 
  • Even though most couples cohabit, most will marry the person they cohabit with
  • He believes the extent of family diversity has been exaggerated
  • The only chane in the past 30 years has been women working - 'neo-conventional' family - neo = new 
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Diversity 6

Lone Parenthood - Single Parenthood

  • Lone Parent households have grown rapidly over recent decades
  • The increase in lone parenthood is due 
      • An increase in divorce
      • A rise in births to unmarried mothers
  • More employment opportunites for women encourage them to have a life in which they are not dependent upon a male partner 
  • Greater equality between the sexes make it more feasible for women to bring up children on their own
  • Murray - the increase in lone parenthood is a result of an over-generous welfare system which makes it possible for lone parents to live on benefits with housing provided by the state. Murray sees lone parents as part of a welfare - dependent underclass
  • Allan and Crow - Point out that most lone mothers find a new partner within a few years and do not rely on benefits throughout an offspring's childhood.
  • Some research suggests that lone parenthood can lead to
      • A greater chance of living in poverty
      • Children doing less well in education
      • Children being more likely to become delinquent or to use drugs 
  • Cashmore Points out that having one parents is better then having a bad parent too 
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Diversity 7

Single Parent Families

Reasons for the growth of single parent families

  • Divorce - it is cheaper
  • Greater social acceptance - less of a stigma, secularisation, mass media
  • The welfare state - state supports the mother with a range of benefits
  • Chaging attitudes to marriage 
  • Increase in having children outside of marriage

Single parent familes are normally headed by women because:

  • Women are more likely to get custody 
  • Men tend to have better-paid jobs so may be reluctant to give these up
  • Men may be relucctant to give up work and care for a child as it could threaten their masculinity 
  • Women are socialised to be nurturing so it is more socially accpetable to them than it would be to a man
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Diversity 8

Critical views on single-parent families 

  • Functionalist and the New Right argue that a single parent cannot provide adequate socialisation, and that two parents are needed. - Need a male and female role model 
  • Comapred to other households they are more likely to be dependent on the welfare state and not in work 
  • Children from single parent families do less well at school compared to children from nuclear families

Positive views on single-parent families

  • Many children from single-parent families do well educationally
  • One good parent is better than two bad parents 
  • Feminists are often supportive of the single parent families as it shows women have independence 
  • Most woemn do not choose to be single parents, and being a single parent is often just one stage in a person's family life cycle 
  • Nuclear families are often flawed too 
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Diversity 9


  • Someone who lives by themselves
  • The increase in singletons is due to:
      • Younger people live by themselves because they can afford to
      • Less stigma attached
      • Women are able to pursue careers now and don't face the pressure of marry
      • People tend to marry later
      • Increase in divorce - men are left on their own
      • Women are living longer than men so end up living on their own when husband dies

Same-sex families

  • Has increased
  • The increase in same sex families is due to:
        • Increased social acceptance
        • Secularisation 
        • Improvement in fertility and treatments 
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Diversity 10

Reconstituted Families - Step Families

Reason for increase:

  • Stepfamilies are formed when lone parents form new partnerships
      • Increase in number of lone parents are also responsible for the creation of stepfamilies

Communal Household - Where people not related (friends) live together

Chosen Family - When people class non-blood related people as family

Modified Extended Family - When families don't keep in touch with some of their extended family

Beanpole family: Three generations 

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Diversity 11

Postmodern View:

The modern family is characterised by choice and diversity

New Right:

Single parent families are linked to increased criminality and the development of an underclass


Any family that challenges the traditional patriarchal family is good

No dad is better than a bad dad

Escape domestic violence 


The nuclear two parent family is the best family structure to socialise our young 

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