Unit 1

  • Created by: tmanyena
  • Created on: 11-05-14 10:34

ethnic differences in family patterns

  • Immigration in Britain over the last 60 years = created an ethnic diverse society

Black Families:

  • higher proportion of female lone parents = family dis-organisation in the slave trade
  • slavery = couples sold separately + children stay with mothers
  • male unemployment = males not able to provide for family = marital breakdown


  • argues = higher female lone parent - not because of dis-organasation - black women = indepenant


  • statistics are misleading
  • lone parents - are stable + supportive non cohabiting relationships.

Asian Families:

  • Bangladeshi, Pakistani & Indian households = larger
  • contain 3 generations - extended
  • larger households = younge profile of british asians - have children earlier
  • larger households= reflect value placed upon extended family - asian culture
  • practical circumstances - when migrating to britain = important


  • extended family = an importance of support amonst asian migrants - 1950's and 60's
  • houses were often shared
  • asian households = nuclear - but relatives live near by
  • sikhs, muslims and hindus = more likely to be an extended family 
1 of 16

The extended family today


  • 3 generation family = extinct
  • ^ only exceptions - in bangladeshi community
  • contact = mothers & daughters
  • decline in support and contact between brothers and sisters
  • those who don't keep in contact = not family
  • variability with what is expected of different relatives


  • exists as a dispered asian family
  • relatives maintain contact - visits and phone calls = geographically dispersed


  • caribbean families = geographically dispersed - provide support for each other
  • multiple nuclear family = close & frequent contact with family members
  • they make contributions to child bearing too

Extended family - plays an important role in our society today

Provide - practical/emotional support

2 of 16

Modernism and the nuclear family

  • Functionalists/New rights = modernists = see modern society as having a fixed structure
  • nuclear family = fits perfectly into the structure
  • Parsons- nuclear family = geographically/social mobile work force, primary socialisation of children & stabalisation of adult personalities + contribute to the stability and effectiveness of society
  • generalise family types found in modern society - division of labour
  • other families = abnormal - perfom less functions
3 of 16

The new right

  • conservative/anti-feminist view on the family
  • prefer the nuclear family = division of labour + husband/wife with dependent children
  • nuclear family = natural + based on biological differences between men and women
  • decline in nuclear family + growth of family diversity = social problems , eg high crime rates
  • lone parents = unnatural + harmful to children + no discipline for children + no male role model
  • mothers going to work = disapprove - caring for family should be first priority
  • marriage = stable environment
  • divorce + cohabitaion = family instability + easier for adults to avoid commitments


  • mothers become lone parents within the first 3 years of their children being born (2000-01)


  • family breakdown = risky for children
  • greater risks of poverty, educational failure, crime & health problems + future fam breakdown


  • conservative & new right = family and society - broken
  • return to tradtional values = better society + more fixed
  • However -new right = family breakdown - more spending on welfare benefits
  • undermine men and discorurage them from working
  • encourage dependency culture + living off state


  • those more committed = likely to marry + stay together
  • Oakley - feminist = husband/wife roles - not fixed biologically
  • Oakley - new right view = negayove reaction against feminist and womens equality
  • Feminists-  on patriachal oppression of women + cause of gender inequality
  • little/no evidence of lone parents being in a dependency culture
4 of 16

Chester : neo-conventional family

  • change = tradtional nuclear family > neo-conventional nuclear family
  • neo-convetional family = dual earner family + symmetrical (wilmott & young)
  • people are choosing to living in alternative family types 
  • people not part of nuclear family = life cycle + were part of nuclear family eg, widows
  • statistics = misleading
  • most people libe in a households headed by a married couple
  • most adults will marry
  • most children reared by natural parents
  • cohabitiation -increased
  • births are jointly registered - commitment
  • family diversity = exaggarated
  • nuclear family = dominant
  • Difference with functionalists = change in breadwinners, both couples = dual earners
5 of 16

The rapoports : five types of family diversity

  • moved away from traditional nuclear family
  • cultures and lifestyles = more diverse
  • family diversity = greater freedom of choice & acceptance of different cultures
  • diversity = response to peoples needs and wishes + not abnormal from nuclear family

Organisational diversity:

  • ways family roles are organised
  • some families = joint conjugal roles + dual earners
  • some families = split conjugal roles + one wage earner

Cultural diversity:

  • different cultures, religions and ethnic groups = diff family structures
  • eg, female headed households amonst afro-caribbeans

Social class diversity:

  • differences in family structures - income differences between households/classes
  • class differences in child rearing practises

Life-stage diversity:

  • differ according to life cycle 
  • eg, widowers who were previously married but now live alone

Generational diversity:

  • older and younger generations = different attitudes + experiences
  • eg, different views on divorce etc
6 of 16

Postmodenity and the life course

  • functionalists and new right

Life course analysis:


  • family is flexible & has variations
  • they make their own choices, and decisions
  • the timing and sequence of events, eg when to have a baby or come out as gay

Holdsworth & Morgan:

  • examine how young people expeience leaving home - independent adult
  • favour unstructured interviews 
  • 1) focuses on family members themselves & looks at how families and households change from the view point of the people involved  and the meanings they have in their lives
  • 2) suitable for studying families in today's society - choice + more diversity
7 of 16

Family practises

Morgan :

  • uses the concepts of family practises - to describe routine actions thorugh which we create our sense of being a member of the family
  • family practises = influenced by our rights and obligations within the family
  • morgan prefers family concept than family strucure - families are not concrete things or structures
  • family practises - closer to the realities of every day experience of the family life than structural approaches such as functionalism
  • functionalists - family is clear cut distinct structure
  • Morgan argues that today's society becomes more fragmented + relationships become less clear cut and blurred


  • does not reject structural theories altogether
  • family practises and course = actions of indviduals
8 of 16

Postmodernism and family diversity

  • we no longer live in the modern world - predictable structures such as the nuclear family
  • society has entered a chaotic postmodern stage
  • family structures are fragmented and indivuals have much more choice in their lifestyles
  • family life has become more diverse

Greater diversity and choice brings ad/dis-advantages:

  • gives individuals greater freedoms to plot their own life course
  • greater freedin if choice in relationships = greater risk of instability + more likely to break up
9 of 16

Giddens: choice and equality


  • in recent decades - the family and marriage have been transformed by greater choice and more equal relationships
  • 1) contraception = allowed sex and intimacy rather than reproduction being the main reason
  • 2) women have gained independence = result of feminism

As a result...

  • the basis of marriage and the famly has chnages into one which the couple are free to define their relationsip themeslves.
  • relationships not defined by law or tradition
  • pure relationship = meets each others needs and likle to continue doing so and couples will stay together because of love, happines or sexual attraction rather than tradtion, sense of duty or for the sake of the children.
  • However, Gidden notes that with more choice, personal relationships = less stable
10 of 16

perspectives on the family and social policy


  • see society as built on harmony and consesus and free from major conflicts
  • state = acts in the interest of society as a whole and its social polices = good for all
  • social policies = help families to perfom their functions more effectively and life =better for members
  • Fletcher: family perfoms effective because of introduction of health, education, and housing poligices since the industrial revolution eg, nhs 


  • assume all members benefit from social policies
  • feminists = policies benefit men at the expense of women
  • assume there is a march of progress and making family life better and better
  • marxists = policies turn the clock back and reverse progress previously made.
11 of 16

The new right

  • social policies = avoid anything to do to harm the nuclear family
  • criticise government policy - undermining family = government weaken family's self reliant
  • Murray: benefits reward the irresponsible + anti social behavior = fathers not helping because state is helping = council housing encourages young girls to get pregnant = growht of lone parent encouraged by benefits
  • social policy = impact roles and relationships via - encouraging dependency culture
  • solution = policies must be changed , eg, cut of welfare benefits
  • advantages = taxes would be reduced and these changes would encourage fathers to work and provide for their family
  • policies to suit the nuclear family - eg, taxes that favour married couples with children
  • the less the state interferes with the family,  = better the family would be


  • Feminists = an attempt to return the nuclear family which is patriachal and subordinated
  • wrongly assumes the patriachal nuclear family is natural and not socially constructed
  • cutting benefits = make more families poorer / in poverty.
12 of 16

new labour


  • favours the strengthening of marriage and regards the famil headed by married couples
  • takes a positive view on social policy 
  • believe that certain kinds of state intervention = improves lives for families
  • new labour = changes adoption laws for unmarried cohabiting couples including gay couples
  • welfare, taxation and minimum wage policies = lift children out of poverty by re-distributing incme to the poor through higher benefits
  • many labourers are anti-benefits, eg working families tax credit
13 of 16


  • take a conflict view = see society as male dominated
  • all social institutions = help to maintain womens surbodinate position and unequal gender division of labour in the family
  • state assumes normal families are based on marriage and offers benefits and text incentives to married couples but are not available for cohabiting couples.
  • policies discourage cohabitation but encourage marriage = self fulfilling prophecy.


  • social policies = assume the ideal family is the patriachal nuclear family
  • Leach: the cereal packet = tax and benefit policeis assume that husbands are the wage erners and the wives are financially dependent + courts assume that women should hve custody of children when divorce happens:


  • even where policies appear to support women- they reinforce patriachal ideology of the family
  • eg, maternity leave = women have longer off compared to fathers who have 2 weeks off
  • child benefit is normally paid to mother = gives a source of income


  • not all policies are directed to maintain patriachy
  • patriacha family is challenged through equal pay and sex discrimination laws
14 of 16


  • society is based upon class conflict
  • the dominant capitalist class owns the emans of the production, such as factories + machinery
  • in a capitalist society - all institutions help to maintain class inequality and exploitation
  • social policies dont benefit members of the society equally and serve capitalism
  • do not accept that there is a steady march of progess towards better welfare policies
  • improvements for the working class families eg, free healthcare = through class strugg;e
  • these improvements can be easily lost again, eg when Thatcher made cuts to the public services in the 1980's/
  • Men came back from war and no longer needed the labour force = prevented women from working.
15 of 16

Donzelot: the policing of families

  • Like marxists/feminists... Donzelot = social policy - form of power over families
  • Foucault - sees power as something held by the the diffused spread through out society and in relationships + sees professionals as exercising power over their clients by using their expert knowledge
  • Donzelot = social workers, health visitors and doctors use their knowledge to control and change families - policing of the family
  • surveillance is not targeted equally on all social classes. Poor families = seen as the problem & are families professionals target for improvements.


  • the state may seek to control and regulate family life by imposing compulsory parenting orders = through courts.
  • parents of young offenders = forced to take parenting classes


  • Donzelot rejects the march of progress view that social policy and the professionals who carry it out have created a better society.
  • he agrees with the conflict view theorists that social policy is a way of controlling family


  • marxists and feminists - donzelot fails to identify clearly who benefits from such policies.
  • marxists = social policies generally operate interests of the capitalist classes
  • femnists = men benefit from social policies.
16 of 16


No comments have yet been made

Similar Sociology resources:

See all Sociology resources »See all Families and households resources »