AS Sociology Family Essay Model - Grade A


In 1949, a well-known sociologist of that time, George Murdock defined the conventional nuclear family as a 'stereotypical', two-generation famile consisting of two heterosexual parents, and possibly 2.4 children living in the same household, with domestic division of labour. Some sociologists believe that the conventional nuclear family is not the norm anymore in today's society. This essay will examine some evidence which supports this theory, and also evidence which contradicts this view.

Firstly, the essay will analyse points which lead us to believe the 'cereal-packet family' is not the norm anymore. It is a fact that only about 25% of families in the UK are nuclear families and over the last 30 years or so, the number of nuclear families in this country has been declining. Two sociologists called Robert and Rhona Rapoport conducted a study in 1985 to identify family changes. They discovered that the conventional nuclear family was in decline, but more diverse families, such as single-parent and reconstituted families were taking the place of the nuclear family. This transition from what were seen as the traditional families in Britain to the greater number of different family types may be due to factors such as death of a partner, or more commonly, relationship breakdowns such as divorce. Were they critical of this gradual change? The answer is no. In fact, the Rapoports 'celebrated' this view on family change. This suggests that they did not agree with the Functionalist perspective on family diversity because they found the different families beneficial to the culture of society. On the other hand, Functionalists (such as the Conservatives), would argue that changes in family diversity are not necessary to the smooth-running of society. In order to support this statement, Rhona Rapoport did a more recent study in 1989 and found that the numbers of nuclear families in the UK were decreasing still.

Another factor concerning the question 'does the conventional nuclear family remain the norm', is the number of women in either full or…


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