Asess the view that the conventional nuclear family remains the norm in Britain today. [24 marks]
Sociologist Edmund Leech (1967) defined the nuclear family as the ‘cereal packet norm’ due to often appearing in advertisements for breakfast cereals. This type of family consisted of a male provider, enhancing the patriarchy with a female homemaker, along with their dependent children, originally assumed as the ideal family by Hilary Land.
Talcott Parsons believes that the conventional family type alters depending on changes in society. Structural differentiation refers to the idea that as society changes, institutions change to fit society, they lose functions in the process of them becoming more specialised. The main example of this is through Industrialisation, with the creation of the nuclear family and the end of the extended family. In modern society, Parsons still believes that family is set out to meet the needs of society as well as performing two vital functions of primary socialisation and the stabilisation of adult personalities, contributing to the effectiveness of society.
An overall functionalist view sees the family still performing these essential functions, meaning we can now begin to generalise about the family types that we find in society. The nuclear family we see as an equal division of labour between the husband and wife. This is how other family begin to be considered as abnormal, since they are less likely to perform the functions required of the family.
Throughout society, the majority of people live within these nuclear families, socialising their children into thinking that this is the norm therefore them carrying on the opinion. This present day has evolved from 1940s where a woman pushing a pram down the road would automatically be considered as married and part of a ‘cereal packet’ family unless widowed.
On the other hand, society has reduced the stigma against other types of families, welcoming more diverse types...
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