Discuss some of the changes and trends in family life in Britain over the last 50 years and outline two different sociological perspectives on the family
This essay will discuss some of the changes and trends in family life in Britain over the last 50 years. In order to do this, this essay will firstly define what is meant by the term family in this context. It will then go on to describe the main family types including the nuclear family, the extended family, cohabiting family and more. The family has changed over the years, the main change being the decline in the traditional nuclear family, the reasons of which will be discussed within the main body of this essay. Other changes of family types will also be discussed along with explanations and arguments of why these changes have occurred. Sociological perspectives on the family intend to shed light on the purpose of the family within society, this essay will outline and discuss two perspectives – one being functionalism and the second being social interactionism. Finally, this essay will come to a conclusion of the research into the changes and trends of family life in Britain. “A family is a group of persons directly linked by kin connections, the adult members of which assume responsibility for caring for children.” (Giddens, 1997) This definition also includes the kin connections through marriages which leads to step families. In today’s society there are a huge diversity of family types, these include:- The nuclear family - a household where the parents are married and they live with their biological children. Extended family – a family which consists of three or more generations, grandparents, parents and children living in the same household. One person household - one adult living alone without any other family members. Cohabiting family – a family where the parents are not married, live with either biological or step children. Lone parent family – this can be either the mother or the father responsible for raising the children. Same gender family – a family where the parents are of the same sex, they may be in a civil partnership and are responsible for children. Multi-racial family – a family where the parents are members of different racial groups. Adoptive family – a family where one or more of the children has been adopted. Immigrant family – a family where the parents have immigrated with their children. The traditional family types 50 years ago were mainly the nuclear family and the extended family, whereas due to divorce, an increased tolerance towards homosexual couples, unmarried parents, immigration and couples of different racial groups having children, modern family types have become extremely diverse, with certain modern family types becoming more popular than the traditional types. In 2012 the office of national statistics found that 38% of families with dependent children were married, compared to 39% of families with dependent children being cohabiting couple families. (Office of National Statistics, 2012) This shows how values towards marriage in recent decades have changed and as a result has affected the family values, no longer does the family value traditional beliefs that parents should be of opposite sex, where the father works and the mother stays at home to rear the children. Modern society has diverse beliefs which directly affect family types and in turn increases the diversity within society as a whole. Through research and studies the Family Policy Social Centre found similar findings “today it is estimated that nuclear families make up only 36% of British families” (Family Policy Social Centre, 2009) Another argument for this decrease of nuclear families is that modern society has introduced legislation related to divorce, contraception and abortion which has affected the nature of women’s roles within the family. Women were starting to realise they were able to choose when they wanted to have children, they were able to get...
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