Sociology- Family


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Domestic division of labour

  • Parsons: instrumental and expressive roles
  • Bott: joint and segregated conjugal roles
  • Young&Willmott: symmetrical family
  • Feminist view on housework

The impact of paid work

  • Gershuny: the trend towards equality
  • The commercialisation of housework
  • The dual and triple burden
  • Lesbien couples and gender scripts

Resources and decision-making in households

  • Decision-making and paid work (pooling&allowance system)
  • Edgell: decisions made

Domestic Violence - statistics, radical feminist

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Childhood as a social construct

  • The modern western notion of childhood
  • Cross-cultural differences in childhood
  • Historical differences in childhood
  • Reasons for changes in the position of children

Has the position of children improved?

  • The march of progress view
  • The conflict view - inequalities amount children, between children and adults, neglect and abuse, controls over children's space, time, bodies and access to resources.

The future of childhood

  • Postman: the disapperance of childhood
  • A seperate childhood culture
  • The globalisation of western childhood
  • Contradictory trends - the reconstruction of childhood?
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The functions of the family

The functionalist perspective on the family

  • Murdock: universal. sexual, economic, reproduction and socialisation
  • Critisms: feminsits - oppress women - marxist - benefits capitalism
  • Parsons' 'functional fit' theory - geographically mobile workforce, socially mobile workforce, loss of functions, primary socialisation, stabilisation of adult personalities.

The marxist perspectice on the family

  • Engles: Inheritance of property
  • Zarketsky: Ideological functions
  • Unit of Consumption
  • Criticisms: ignores family diversity, gender inequalities, ignore real benefits of family.

Feminists perspective on the family

  • Liberal Feminism
  • Marxists feminism
  • Radical Feminism
  • Difference feminsits
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Changing Family Patterns

  • Divorce & reasons for increase in divoce
  • changes in law, declining stigma and changing attitudes, secularisation, rising expectations of marriage and changes in women's position
  • The meaning of high divorce rates - new right, feminists, functionalists, postmodernists


  • Marriage: Fewer people marrying, more re-marriages, people marry later, less likely to marry in church.
  • Changing attitudes to marriage, secularisation, declining stigma attached to alternative to marriage (cohabitation etc.),changes in women's position and fear of divorce.
  • Cohabitation: decline in stigma attached to marriage, the young more likely to accept cohabitation, secularisation.
  • Chester: trial marriage
  • Same-sex relationships
  • One-person households

Parents & Children

  • Childbearing - fewer children, children later, outside marriage, childless
  • Lone-parent families - female headed, decline in stigma, the welfare state
  • Step-families
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Family Diversity

Family Diversity

  • The New Right - favour 'nuclear family' as natural, marriage is essentail, lone-parent are harmful, encourage 'dependency culture', 'perverse incentives'.
  • Chester: the neo-conventional family (dual earner family) - diversity has been exaggerated, families still headed by couples, most adults marry and have children, re-marriages occur.
  • The Rapoports: five types of family diversity (organisational, cultural, social class, life-strage and generational)
  • Beck: 'risk society' tradition has less influence and people have more choice- greater gender equality, greater individualism.
  • Stacey: divorce- extended family
  • Weeks: the growing acceptance of diversity
  • Against diversity - functionalists and new right
  • In favour of diversity - feminists and postmodernists
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Social Policy

Social Policy

  • Aboloshing family (russian revolution), china's one-child policy, nazi family policy.
  • Functionalists - policies support family, good for all, policies help families to perform their cuntions more effectively and make life better for their members.
  • The New Right - policies create 'dependency culture', perverse incentive, Murray: fathers abandoning children, generous benefits, council housing to young unmarried girls, less state interference.
  • New Labour - positive role, policies improve family life, lifting children out of poverty, re-distriurting income to the poor.
  • Feminism- conflict view- patriarchal, benefits men, policies help to maintain women's subordinate position and the unequal division of labour- courts give custody to mothers assuming their the 'natural' carer(Lang, Leach, Leonard).
  • Marxists:- help maintain class inequality and exploitation, policies serve capitalism
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