Family: a group of two or more who are associated by birth, cohabitation, marriage or adoption. This is different to households, which is people who live together but aren’t necessarily family (e.g. students sharing a house).
Nuclear family a mother, father and dependent children. This type of family is in decline; just over half of the families in Britain are nuclear, with an increase in family diversity (different types of families).
Gay and lesbian families: a same sex couple who live together with their child (children).
Extended families are families that typically contain 3 generations who live together. (Mum and Dad with their children and a grandparent). This is a vertically extended family. A Horizontally extended family includes a family with 2 generations who live together (eg husband’s brother lives with the family).
Lone parent families are also on the increase, these are families with one parent and a dependent child or children.
Reconstituted families (step families) are families in which one or both partners have a child from a previous marriage and live together.
Empty nest families – when the grown up children of a nuclear family leave home leaving the parents who live together.
Beanpole families this type of family is on the increase as fewer families have fewer children. So the family tree is like a “bean pole” – long and thin!
Life course diversity
This relates to the different types of families and households a person experiences in their lifetime. Eg a baby might be born to a lone parent, and as they grow up, their mother might re-marry (family = reconstituted), then at 18 the child leaves home and shares a house with friends (household), they might then meet a partner and decide to co-habit before getting married. When they have children, this would be a nuclear family, and when their dependent children leave home, this becomes the empty nest family.
Functionalist approach to the family: (Positive approach)
The functionalist approach suggests that the nuclear family serves essential functions (or roles). These include
1) reproduction (reproducing the human race!) and it does this through monogamy (a relationship between one man and one woman, reinforcing the idea of just one sexual partner.
2) Primary socialisation – ensuring the next generation is aware of the norms and values of society.
3) Emotional support – the family provides its members with support and is a place of safety and security.
4) Economic support- financial support, food and shelter.
The New Right approach to the family (Critical of “other” types of families)
this is a more recent view of the family and is supported by the Conservative Government. The NR approach sees the Nuclear family as best and is seen as an attack on same sex families and lone parent families. It says family values are based on:
- the idea that the nuclear family is a “normal type…