Young and Wilmott's Theory of the Symmetrical Family


The March of Progress

- Wilmott and Young conducted research into family life in East London in the 1950s and early 1970s using large scale social surveys.

- They developed an idea of the family developing through a number of stages through history, known as a 'march of progress'.

- An important concept for Wilmott and Young was stratified diffusion, changes in norms and values start among the wealthier in society and pass down to lower classes.

The Stages of the Family

- Wilmott and Young suggested that family moved through a series of stages and predicted how family life would be organised in future generations.

  • Stage 1: Pre-industrial family.
  • Stage 2: Early industrial family.
  • Stage 3: Symmetrical family.
  • Stage 4: Asymmetrical family.

Pre-Industrial Family

- This type of family was based in rural areas and worked in agriculture.

- The family operated together, with men, women and children working on land and in the home.

- Family was a unit of production; it produced its own goods for its own consumption, with any surplus traded with others in return for…


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