Sociology the family

cards to help me revise the studies for unit 2 of sociology

Beck and Beck Gernsheim

-People see children as a restriction to their individual choices

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Robet Chester (1985)

-argued changes had only been minor

-Claims since 2nd world war family life has remained mainly unchanged

-most people still live in a nuclear family, however most of them are 'neo-conventional' which is similar to 'conventional, but it explains the increasing number of women who work

- Most people have experienced a dual parenting relationship and have gone on to create a nuclear family for even a small period of time

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Bernardes (1997)

-There are strong social pressures discouaging people from remaining single as marriage is protrayed as the ideal state

-Being single is portrayed as abnormal

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Berthoud (2000)

-Sample: general household survey

-Findings: proportion of people in their 20's living alone increased from 3% in 1973 to 9% in 1996

This shows that it is now a lot more common for people to live alone then it ever used to be

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Somerville (2000)

-Sees rise in single person households as a significant trend

-has been a large rise in percentage of yound men living alone which may be the result of later marriage and also divorce

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Wasoff et al

-Sample: British households panel study between 1991-2002

-the sample was watched throughout this period to notice the changes and patterns

Findings: only 7% lived alone throughout the whole period

COnclusion: Boundaries between solo living and family living are frequently crossed thus solo living is only a temorary phase

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Waugh (2000)

-There are several resons for the fall of birth and fertitility results which part of a demographic transition

1) Access to contracpetion is a lot easier

2) The increased desire for material goods and the cost of raising children means people would rather keep their money for themselves

3) Women combine careers with motherhood which is tricky and often unsuccesful

4) Due to better health care there is less pressure to have lots of children in case one or more of the dies before reaching adulthood

These changes may cause a situation where there is more deaths than births and so the population declines

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Ginn and Arber

-The amount of contribution old people can provide to society  relys on:

  -Class: workiong class people cannot afford to fund their own health care and have 'inadequate pensions'

   -Gender: Women are faced with a lot more prejudice. On top of ageism  and poverty, they are also faced with sexism which impacts their health care


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Morgan (2003)

-Total fertility rates have fallen

-This is a consequence of women having children later in life

-There is a general decline on family life which is linked to the rise in cohabitation

-A lot of children are born outside marriage but inside relationships

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New Right

-Seen trends in marriage and divorce as a sign of a breakdown of the family life

-The high divorce rate is a symptom of serious family crisis

-People aren't as committed to the family as they used to be

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John Gilles (1985)

-People are more like to cohabitate and partake in a sexual relationship once engaged , which is a more common trend then it used to be

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Divorce reform act (1971)

-It meant people didn't need to have commited a matrimonial offence in order to file for a divorce

-1984- This change meant people didn't need to be married a certain period of time before they could get a divorce

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Family Law Act (1996)

-Stopped the 'finger of blame' on one member of the marriage being pointed in order to get a divorce, however divorcees had to undergo a period of reflection on 12-18 months

- Allowed a non-molestation order to be claimed

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Legal Aid and Advice Act (1949)

-Provided free legal aid and solicitors

-Welfare provisions were introduced meaning fathers had to pay money to single parent ex partners

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-Trends in marriage are a sign of a breakdown of a traditional marriage

-Want a return of 'traditional values'

-Cohabitation is less stable than marriage

-High divorce rate is a symptom of serious family crisis

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Goode (1971)

-Divorce is only one mechanism adopted by societies for dealing wit marital problems

-If divorce is not possible due to religion, culture etc. legal separations or 'empty shell' marriages may occur

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Thornes and Collard (1979)

Sample: divorcees

Results: by the 3rd anniversary; 69% of wives and 46% of husbands concluded there were problems

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Chester (1984)

-Marital breakdown is hard to measure

-Growing divorce rates probably do reflect the growing level of marital breakdown

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Dr Tripp

-Children of reordered families were more likely to have problems; health, schoolwork, social, behaviour, self-esteem

-The loss of a parent overshadows all other other factors which may effect children

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McLanahan and Booth (1991)

-They listed a number of american studies which indicated children are harmed by single parenthood

-Found the following problems with children who grew up in single parent familes

  -Lower earnings

  -More poverty (when adults)

  -More likely to be single-parents


  -Drug use

-However this stems largely from low-income rather than single parenthood alone

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-Children of single parent families did suffer more ill health than other children

-This 'statistic' vanished however, with single parent families where the parent was in employment

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Cashmore (1985)

-The questioned the assumption that children brought up by one parent are worse off than those brought up by two

-It is better that the child is with one caring parent rather than one caring and one not caring parent or two arguing, unhappy parents

-However he does say that because single parents generally mothers, are so used to being dependant on a partners salary that they do instead become dependant on the state for their income 

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Morgan (1994)

-He qualifies evidence of success of children bought up by two parents by saying it is unknown what causes the improvement in development

-He says that children are affected by the stigma that comes with being from a single parent household

-It is dangerous to make generalisations

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Allan & Crowe (2001)

-The CSA (child support agency) provide little help to single parents

-If the single parent is recieveing income support, the away parent ia unlike to pay child maintenance

-Employed lone parents tend to be on low wages as the majority fo them are women who suffer from gender inequality

-Although there are a lot of afluent single parents, there are a majority who are in poverty

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-Every individual must internalise norms and values of society

-The family moulds the child to fit the needs of society Primary socialisation

-family are central to the creation of value consensus, which means children have a strong feeling of belonging to a society

-Schools take over the prest of the process and being Secondary socialisation

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George Murdock

There isn't a substitute for the nuclear family that would fulfill a nuclear families role

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'the family is a haven in a heatless world'

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Dennis and Erdos

-The rise on the number of children brought up without fathers is worrying

-These children are assosciated with;

  -Anti-social behaviour



  -Educational under-achievement

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-Single parents are at the heart of the 'underclass'; which unconsciously socialises children into a life of crime and deviance

-They're values are anti-authority, anti-work and anti-family life which explains why children are deliberately getting pregnant; to obtain state benfits and/or council flats

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-There is a dominant ideology which stresses the ideal of the nuclear family

-This ideology leads to negative labelling of children not from a nuclear family by social agencies such as social workers, teachers, local councils

-This may result on a self- fulfilling prophecy

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-Children from single parent backgrounds may be more likely to be taken into care or custody than children from conventional homes

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berger (1983)

-The nuclear family represents the best environment in which a childs individuality can develop

-Collective child rearing systems create more conformist, less creative people thatn those raised by parents in a nuclear family

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Carby (1982)

-Criticised white feminists for failing to consider siignificance of racism as a for of domination

-For black people family can be oppresive

-Black women use their family as a support network from racism

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-Choice and diversity has led to a renegotiation of family relationships 

-People attempt to find a middle ground between individualisation and commitment to another person or child

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-The era we live in is known as late modernity

-It is characterised by choice and change

-there is so many oppurtunities for lifestyles to be chosen that family often has difficulty finding  a place to fit into late modernity

-Family diversity os a reflection of peoples own identities

-Commitment lasts as long as personal satisfaction is recieved

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Parsons (1951) (History development of the family)

-Changes in the function of the family involved a change in structure

-In pre-industrial society a family system made it easier to carry out functions as there was a wide kinship

-In industrial society this was no longer needed because:

1) The nuclear family unit contained the basic number needed to carry out essentrial functions. The welfare state has teken over need for extended kinship systems

2) In industrial society, the workforce had to be geographically mobile and small families can move from pace to place a lot easier to search for jobs

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Young and Wilmott: privatisation of the family

-extended famly neworks were still in existence in the traditional working class communities in the 1950's

-There was a very close bond between mothers and daughters, who regularly visited their mothers to help out with the children and to visit friends

-people who had been rehomed from bethnal green to council estates in essex, 30 miles peopple had become Privatised  and therefore family life became a lot more home-centred due to being cut off from connections back home

-As conditions have changed (working hours reduced, mor comfortable living) people have become a lot mroe home-cwentred and a lot more family orientated and a lot more nuclear

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Golthorpe and Lockwood

-privatisation is increasingly characteristinc of workign class families

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Fiona Devine (1992)

Sample: Vauzhall car workers and their families in luton 1986-1987

Findings: Most couples had regular contact with kin and especially parents and siblings, thus the extent of privatisation had been exagerated. Cars and telephones allowed peole to keep in touch

-People continue to sue kin as a source of information about jobs and housing 

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De'Ath and Slater (1992)

-There were a number of challenges facing reconstituted families;

  -Children may find themselves pulled in two directions

  -Children may have tense relationships with their step parents which may cause conflict


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Peter Stein

Sample: single individuals between the ages of 25-45

Method: interviews

Findings: they recognised that being single often helped thier career oppurtunities because they had their full cncentration on work.

                 -promoted a wider variety of sexual experiences

                 -promoted overall freedom and autonomy

                 -however they also acknowledged the difficulties of being single when the rest of the people their age were married thus suufering from isolation and loneliness

                -men found the pressures to marry greater than the pressures to stay single

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Weeks et al

-homosexuals look upon their households and even their family networks as chosen families

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-They identify 5 key features of family diversity in britain:

Cultural- there are differences inthe family types and structures of people within different ethical groups, origins and religious beliefs

Life-cycle- Newly married couples might be at different stages to older people, so haven't begun their families yet. these people may have a different family life to those who are marrieed and who have children who are dependant on them

Organisational- there are variation on household structure, family structure, patterns of kinship networks and divisions of labour within the home

Cohort- the different periods of time in which families pass through differnet stages. This can impact childrens dependacy on their parents; during periods of mass unemployment they would be more relaint on their parents

Social class- the way a family is structutred varies between the different classes


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Burgoyne and Clark (1982)

-people in a reconstituted family see temselves as 'pioneers of an alternative lifestyle'

-some paeople may remain unmarried to their new partner and see the benefits in having reconstituted with another partner upon thier children

-It can leave a sense of achievement

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Allan and Crowe (2001)

-identify the following demographic changes as contributing to increased family diversity:

1) The divorce rate has risen. This has affected most countries in the western world, not just britain

2) Lone-parent hoouseholds have increased in number. This is due to an increase in dovirce and also the face that pregancy no longer requires legitimation through marriage

3) cohabitation outside marriage is increasingly common. in the early 1960's only 1 in 20 women lived with their future husband before marriage, by the late 1980's half did so

4) Marriage rates have declined; this is partyl due to the fact that people are marrying later but also because lifetime marriage rates seem to be falling

5) there has been a big increase in the number of step families which has contributed to increased diversity

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Boh (1989)

-overall there is a consistent pattern of convergence in diversity

-while family life varies from country to country, within europe more and more family structures are being accepted as normal

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Chester: the 'neo-conventional' family

-argued that the family life changes have only been minor and have remained largely unchanged since the scond world war

-believes that a snapshot of household types at a particular time does not provide a valid picture of the british family

-argues that nearly half the population still live in nuclear families and everyone has exeperienced the parent-child household at some time

the 'neo-convntional family, is Chester's description of a nuclear family that isn't directly linear to the 'cereal packet' description. i.e wives work as well

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The family policy studies centre (FPSC)

Sample: 2000 families attitudes

Findings: families are infinitely adaptable;they may change and reform but they always offer one another love and support

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McGlone et al

-Families remain very improtant to people in contemporary britain

-Argue that families remain an important source of  help and and support and no matter how far way kin live, they always remain in contact

-grandparents are part of the 'core' of the family

-differences between social classes remained significant; working likely to have moer close contacts than the middle class

-Kinship networks beyond the nuclear family remain important to people

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Brannen (2000)

-There are still strong intergenerational links in contemporary british families; often 3 or 4 generations of a family may still be alive

-Grandparents are increasingly providing informal childcare and often helping out children and grandchildren financially

-adults are still providng emotional and practical support to elderly parents and often help them out financially as well

-these integenerational links tend to survive changes in the family such as divroce etc.

-Found intragenerational links were weaker than intergenrational links

-most common, successful extended family form in contemporary britain is called the beanpole family

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Willmott and Young

-Tradition segregated division of labour was breaking down

- Relationship between husband and wives was becoming more symmetrical; although woman has ain share of duties, men still chip in here and there

- Increase in egalitarian marriage due to disappearance of extended family on the late 20th century, being replaced by privatised nuclear family

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Gershuny (1992)

-Time-budget analysis of detailed diaries kept by respondants on a day-to-day and weekly basis

- Found a clear trend towards men carrying out domestic roles supporting the idea of a symmetrical family however women's working hours including domestic activities still remains greater than men's

- Concludes saying that in the last few decades changes in family have been prominent

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Beck (1992)

- Fathers can no longer rely on jobs to give them a sense of identity so look to their children to give them a sense of identity and purpose

- However women still do majority of childcare

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-Dual career families; men tolerate ther wives working as long as they still take prime responsibility for childcare an housework

-If a nanny, cleaner and/or maid is hired, it is the wives responsibility to organise it 

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hardill et al (1997)

-Husband-controlled pooling: 39/102 couples.

  -Money was shared but the husband had the dominant role in deciding how it was spent

-Wife-controlled pooling: 27/102 couples

   -Money was shared but wife had deciding role of how it was spent

Both above found in wherever household with dominant sex having better job

-Husband control: 22/102 couples

  -Husband was in complete control and often gave wife housekeeping money

Wife control: 14/102 couples

  - mostly in benefit households where looking after money was a burden

Both above in poorer households

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-Power to make decisions changed when males became unemployed

- Working wives where husbands were unemployed made decisions and cut back on spending

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