AS Sociology AQA Family & Childhood

  • Created by: Clint Law
  • Created on: 16-05-12 14:02


Families and Households

For success at AQA AS Sociology, students should understand the key terms and definitions of the family.  They should also be able to critically evaluate the theoretical perspectives.  Students should be aware of recent changes in family life, and the plurality of household forms in Britain today. Basic Definitions:

Family and Kin

The family is a group of persons united by ties of marriage, blood or adoption constituting a single household. Kin is a wider group of people who are related by blood, and who extend beyond the immediate family. There are 2 main types of family form in Britain- the Nuclear Family and the Extended Family.

The Nuclear Family

This consists of two generations (parents and children) who live together.  The Nuclear Family is most often found in western societies.  It is sometimes suggested that the NC is “isolated”, in that it is often geographically mobile, and emotionally and financially self-sufficient.  The NC often exists largely independently of its wider kin.

The Extended Family

This consists typically of 3 generations living together, namely, children, parents and grandparent(s).  State pensions in Britain are relatively poor, and a growing number of elderly people are going to live with their adult children.  Three or even four generational extended families are called ‘Beanpole Families’. Some Asian people also live in extended families.

Patriarchy and Matriarchy

Societies which are male dominated, and where men are seen as “head of the household” are called patriarchies.  Societies where women are considered “head of the household” are called matriarchies.  Many Afro-Caribbean families in Britain are headed by a woman.  This is a traditional arrangement that is also common in the Caribbean.


Generally speaking, a special cultural or religious ceremony takes place to mark people as “married.”  Until 1753, there was no formal act of marriage.  To get married, a couple merely exchanged gifts and drew up their own vows and contract.  Marriages can take 2 forms:

1)      Monogamy- where one man is married to one woman (e.g. Britain)

 2)  Polygamy- where one person has more than one partner of the opposite sex.  For example, in some countries, a man may have up to four wives.

The Family In Britain Today

Family life in modern Britain is increasingly diverse.  The “traditional” family is less typical than people imagine.  The Rapoports note that there are a number of social, economic, ethnic and religious reasons for diversity.  There is also locational diversity.  That is to say, families are different in rural, inner city and suburban areas.

“Social Trends Report, 2006”

This major governmental report found that an increasing number of households contain only one person.  70% of all households contain no children.  Furthermore, many households with children have only one resident parent.  The Nuclear Family is seen as “normal” and “ideal”, but only 18% of households in Britain are Nuclear




Thank you this is really good :)

Stav Drymoni


this is really useful! thankyou (: