The Family: Industrialization

Parsons on the nuclear family during pre-industial times and after. Including critiques

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Murdocks definition of the Nuclear family

George Peter Murdock describes the nuclear familt unit as;

a family made up a heterosexual couple

that are married (to promote fedility) 

and have two to three depend offspring (which are biological).                

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Parson's - Nuclear family and pre-industrial socie

Talcott Parsons found that in pre-industrial society the family unit was large based on extended kinship networks. 

(Imagine people in the country side on their farms working with brother and sisters and aunts and uncles...)

They were a prodyct of ascription rather than achievement and provided for the own welfare, education and care.

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Parson's - Nuclear family and industrial revolutio

Parson's notes that after the industrial revolution the economy demanded a more geographically mobile workforce.

Also achievement became more inportant than ascription with the introduction of mass education.

Nuclear families formed as people moved away from their extended kin in the countryside, in order to take jobs in the towns. Family members became more dependent and focused on each other.

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Parson's - Nuclear family

Istitutions developed wich tool over many functions of the family, for example the state took over health, welfare and education.

Leaving two functions for the nuclear family;  the primary socialization of children and the stabilization of adult personalities.  

The nuclear family unit gave the husband and wife clear social roles; (sexual division of labour)

The male is the 'instrumental leader' resposible for the economic welfare and protection of the family

The female is the 'expressive leader' responsible for the socializatrion of the children and the emothtional care of the famly.

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Critiques of Parson's interpretation of the domina

Historians suggest that Parsons interpretation is too simplistic, it does not consider that different societies follow different patterns, for example the industrial revolution in Japan reinforced their extended kinship networks rather than cause a shift to the nuclear unit.

Laslett's study of parish records suggested that only ten per cent of householdes in pre-industrial times contained extended kin.

Michael Anderson's historical study using records from 1851 found that there remained a large number of households shared by extended kin after the industrial revolution.

Young and Willmott (1957) argue that the shift in the family unit did not happen as fast as Parson's suggests. It was rather a gradual change. Research found that after industrialization, exteneded families existed in large numbers. (1973) They argue that the extended family unit declinded in the 1960's when working-class famillies were re-housed in council estates in towns.

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Marxists View

Working-class extended famillies have been discourages by the capitalist ruling class as it causes people to be aware of class inequality.

Marcuse (1964) claimed that working families are encourages to pursue ' false need's in the form of the latest consumer good and to judge themsleves and others on the basis of thei aquisitions and that this serves capitalism rather than the consumer.

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Marxists Feminists suggest that the nuclear unit benefits capatilist society and therefore the bourgeoisie at the expense of the proleteriat. Unpaid labour such as childcare and housework are of great value to capitalist economy and so capitalism exploits women.

Radical Feminists argue that the main effects of industrialization was that women were excluded from paid work. They were redefined as mothers and housewives economically dependent on the man. SO it met the needs of men rather than society as a whole.

Margaret Benston (1972) suggests that the nuclear family is important as is rears the future workforce at little cost to the (capitalist) state.

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