Examine the Reasons for the Increase in Uk Family and Household Diversity in the Last 40 Years

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Examine the reasons for the increase in family and household diversity in the last 40 years (24 marks, 10 A01, 14 A02)

Family and household diversity is the change in patterns among the various family and household types that exist because of factors such as secularisation, changes to legislation, changes in women's position, changing attitudes In the past 40 years the family structure within the UK has changed quite dramatically for example the number of traditional nuclear families has been steadily declining and in their place the single parent and reconstituted family type have increased in number, also people are living much longer lives so people are able to make more life changing decisions than they could do in previous years. More than 24% of the UK’s entire family population belongs to single parent families, with 1 in 4 children living in a single parent family that the mother heads 90% of. This essay aims to explore some of the reasons and factors behind the change in family structure and the factors that have contributed to greater family diversity.

One reason why families have become more diverse is secularisation; this is where religion has less influence on the way people make decisions within society. In the 21st century there has been a decline in the role that religion plays when choosing the way we structure our families, this is because we now have the freedom in a post modern society to make our own decisions and not ones that religion would have once dictated to us, therefore family types other than the nuclear family have been allowed to flourish and prosper these primarily include, the reconstituted, one person households and same sex family types. In previous generations, these family types would have been frowned upon by the wider society because they were not seen as the ‘norm’. This increase in secularisation has also been shown by the fact that there not as many people becoming members of the catholic and the Anglican churches as people now look to the state and science for answers to their questions instead of religious interpretation. However religion is still seen as an important aspect of society because in times of crisis families and even individuals still regard their religions as a way to seek salvation from the troubles that society throws at them. In the 21st Century Christianity now has fewer members than it did before the turn of the century, members are also less likely to attend church or commit to religious teachings such as not having sex before marriage, which was a common belief among those who are followers of Catholicism. They could, therefore, also be inclined to take their marriage vows less seriously which in turn could mean either member of the couple may become more willing to give up on the marriage. However, around 35% of all marriages are still held within a religious building this seems to suggest that perhaps religion still has some significant influence on people's lives; therefore secularisation does not completely explain the increase in divorce rate since the 1970's.

Another reason why families have become more diverse is due to the decline in stigma i.e. no longer frowned upon by society which was traditionally attached to family types other than the nuclear family with the decline in the nuclear family other family types have become more acceptable thus more desirable within today's society, such as same sex relationships, Weeks sees gays as creating families based on the idea of friendship as kinship, where friendships become a type o kinship network; he argues that they offer the same security and stability as heterosexual couples. Stonewall (2008), the campaign for lesbian, gay and bisexual rights estimates that about 5-7% of the adult population today have same sex relationships, however it is impossible to judge whether this represents an increase because in the past,...
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