The Family (Brief Overview)

Key Notes On The Family

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- Ways in which the extended family remains important in contemporary society

Grandparents and child care / women at work / divorced couples / single parents

Modified, emotional support / mobiles / internet / email

Asian families – Bose and Bangladeshi families

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- Examples of how family life may be influenced by ethnicity

Asian families – Bose & Bangladeshi families: Importance of extended family / patriarchal roles

Afro-Caribbean- full time working mums / double shift ( Hochschild) / Triple shift (Duncombe and Marsden)

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- Recent demographic changes and the ways they have affected family life

Aging population – Sandwich generation Grundy and Henretta)

Fewer children – more leisure time / child centred / more dual earner and dual career families

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- Reasons for the growth in lone parent households

More divorce / Divorce reform Act 1969 / Irretrievable breakdown in marriage

Confluent love / High expectations of marriage relationships / Anthony Giddens


Cohabitation / changed attitudes / reduced stigma

New Right view / welfare system /

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- Ways in which families differ from households

Families do not necessarily live together / child at university / extended family / households are people with common residence – involves sharing domestic tasks and bills

Families are mainly blood related or legally connected / eg. adopted or married

Families involve socialisation, nurturing and emotional caring roles

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- Ways in which family life may be influenced by changing work patterns

More women at work / double shift (Hochschild) and triple shift (Duncombe and Marsden)

Dual earner and dual career families / David Cheal – 6 ways (work at home, shift work, flexible hours, part time work, genders share domestic tasks, grandparents or nurseries become primary child-carers)

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- Ways in which the nuclear family benefits its members

Murdock Functionalist – economic function / shelter, food, leisure

Parsons – stabilisation of adult personalities / warm bath theory

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- Ways in patterns of marriage over the last thirty years

People marry at a later age / life style choice / homes and leisure prioritised / consumer lifestyle

Increase in remarriages / increase in divorce / reconstituted families

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- Reasons why some men have taken the role of house husband.

Increase in women’s careers and higher incomes / link to education

Change in social attitudes to gender roles in families / new man / MORI ‘fully involved dad’ / Thompson et al 80% fathers happy to stay at home

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- Reasons for the growth of dual career families

Educational aspirations and achievements of women / more career opportunities for women

Women’s changed perception of role / Laws, Equal Pay Act /Feminism

Lifestyle choices and consumer practices / more material aspirations / advertising and media pressure

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- Changes in the divorce rate since 1971

Divorce Reform Act/ Irretrievable breakdown / Also Family Law Act 1996, no blame

Cost was prohibitive before, legal aid available

Women’s economic independence/ less subservient

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- Reasons for the growth of households containing one person

Lifestyle choice / consumerism / emphasis on leisure and quality of life

More divorced couples

Cohabitees splitting up

Women wanting careers and not families – contraception available

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- Ways in which family life may differ according to social class

Leisure pursuits / cultural capital & Bourdieu / Ballet and music lessons versus Saturday football match

Meal times / MC sit at table for supper at 8.00pm / WC eat tea at 5.00 in front of TV

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- Features of a re-constituted family

Step brothers and sisters / children from your parents new partner / involves jealousy and having to fit in with others

Step parents / involves complex role responsibilities in relation to discipline and socialisation

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- Characteristics of the traditional nuclear family

Two married parents and their children living in the same household. Single parents with children do not count. New Right see all alternatives as dysfunctional for the family and society

Parsons traditional gender roles; instrumental male role & expressive female role. Murdock 250 societies, universal and natural roles

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- Reasons for the growth of one parent families in the last twenty years

Divorce laws / 1969 Divorce Reform Act and Irretrievable break down /

Secularisation and changed attitudes

Women able to divorce because of economic independence

New Right view on welfare state

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- Reasons for an increase in childless couples

Lifestyle choice / consumer habits

Women at work / education and career choices

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- Types of family diversity

Social class


Reconstituted – 72 ways


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- Reasons for marital breakdown in the contemporary UK

Easier to divorce / Divorce Reform Act 1969 & cost not so prohibitive

Confluent love / Anthony Giddens

More mixing of social classes / religions / ethnicities puts strain on relationships

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- Reasons for the increase in cohabitation


Availability of contraception

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- Ways in which an aging population affects family life

Sandwich Generation / Grundy and Henretta

Help with childcare for dual earner families

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- Ways in which the roles of men and women are changing within the family

Willmott and Young, symmetrical families / shared domestic tasks and wage earners

Attitudes to males and childcare / Thompson 80% dads happy to look after children / More fully involved dads

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