Examine how the different theoretical approaches have explained the changes that the family has historically gone through. The family is a universal institution present in every society throughout the world. For many, the family seems a familiar and comfortable institution, but this can appear in many different forms. A particular type of family is the ‘nuclear’ family; this consists of parents and children living together in the same household. The ‘conventional nuclear’ family comprises of a married man and woman with their biological children living together, this type of family is often dubbed ‘the cereal packet family’ where the male is the breadwinner and the female a homemaker. Another family type is the ‘extended’ family which includes all kin beyond the nuclear family e.g. Grandparents, Aunts or Uncles etc. Other family types include; Patriarchal families, Reconstituted or (step) families and Loan Parent Families, all of which are alternatives to the traditional nuclear family.
The family has been the focus of study for many different sociologists, all of which can be criticized in some form.Throughout this essay I am going to examine how the different theoretical approaches explain how family structures and the roles of individuals within them have changed in relation to each of the historical stages that Western society is said to have developed through. There is an underlying assumption amongst sociologists that ‘hunter-gatherer’ bands were the first forms of society. Although these were large communal groups the structure of the ‘nuclear’ family was seen to be present within them. In order to survive the need for team work was essential and therefore separate conjugal roles were necessary. Female mobility was limited due to the impact of child birth and child rearing so they were responsible for gathering nuts and berries from the land whilst the male role was go and hunt for food. Anthropologists studying ‘hunter-gatherer’ societies still in...
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