Discuss the changing nature of the family in the UK.
Over the last few decades, the traditional family structure has undergone tremendous change that it has now become an overwhelming social issue in the UK since there is a noticeable increase of diversified family structure in the society. For example, there has been an increased number of lone parent, cohabitation, single parent and divorce. Furthermore, marriage levels in UK are low all the time. For every three weddings, two divorces, it is the highest divorce rate in Europe (How much is family life changing? BBC news)According to General House Hold Survey (2007), the proportion of families headed by a lone family had increased from 8% to 24% in 1971 to 2007. Therefore, this essay will examine and analyses using interdisciplinary approach from sociology economics and political science disciplines, the potential driving force in the increase divorce rate. This essay is divided into three parts. Firstly, it will define the nature of a family. Secondly, sociology and economic arguments will be brought up to explain how the changing of family structure could impact on divorce rate in the UK society. Thirdly, political sciences will be applied to focus on feminist movement and how the review of UK laws could influence people’s behaviour, and to a large extent, the family and the society as a whole. Before starting to write this essay, it is necessary to have a clear definition of family. According to Oxford English Dictionary, the definition of family is "Group of person consisting of the parents and their children, whether actually living together or not". But in sociology perspective, family is a group of people biological or marital related or a strong common bond, such as those descended from a common ancestor, or a husband, wife, and their children.
There is a significant changing nature of the family structure after Second World War. In the 1950s, there was an idealized image of the family which was contributing to new age, 'Golden Age'. In that generation, traditional family and nuclear family were social norms of the 'Golden Age' in which marriages were for life. The male was treated as breadwinner providing financial support to the family. The female or mother was a dependent to the husband and who took care of children. However, over the years, the ideas of the ‘family’ vary and change. In the early twenty-first century, there was a wide range of diversity families such as step-families and single parent families. That' is reasons for divorce cannot be ignored. Nowadays, in contemporary families, the family role is changing, as Allan and Crow (2001) suggested that, 'changes in family life are not only a matter of changing family structures but also changing family roles and relationships'. For instance, females now could get paid jobs, not just caring for children at home. In general, women may nowadays possibly enjoy fairer social and economic treatment and could live independently. First of all, one perspective is to examine the changing nature of families from the sociology perspective. Sociology means the study of the functioning of human society. The reason of couple nowadays divorce easily because the women role has changed like the increase in educational opportunities. It is suggested women becomes more independent since they have received better education (Jagger,1999). After the Second World War, as more women wanted to be employed, so that they must have a better education to increase the chances. A statistic shows the number of female students has gradually increased to 56.9% in 2000 and 2001 among the whole higher education student population, in which most achieved first degree or 2:1 (Anon, 2002).. Until 1980s, the women had more chance to be offered by the higher education so finally the women shift into the labour market and the community of professionals (Jagger,1999). Nowadays, in UK the education is free for provided to the citizen so...
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