Family Diversity

Topics: Family, Sociology, Feminism Pages: 9 (3024 words) Published: October 5, 2014
The key family types are Nuclear, Extended, Reconstituted and Lone parent. These are the family types that exist in contemporary Britain. The basic premise is that the family structure depends upon social and economical circumstances – as such family definition is open to cultural interpretation, norms and values. Whilst the family is adaptable–over the last Three hundred years in Britain, the family has changed and adapted, as we have moved from an agricultural society to industrial society. Sociologist George Peter Murdoch who defined the universal Family concept stated: “The nuclear family is a universal human social grouping. Either as the sole prevailing form of the family or as the basic unit from which more complex forms compounded, it exists as a distinct and strongly functional group in every society” The concept of the pre industrial extended family is somewhat of a misrepresentation – when you consider death rates of working class families. The extended family is referred to as vertical extensions; Aunts, uncles, cousins and siblings –grandparents, children, and grandchildren who all live together, are referred to horizontal extensions - the sexual relationships, and are monogamous within the extended and nuclear family. Polygamous relationships do exist within extended family, although this is predominately within specific cultures and religions. Examples being in the Moslem faith the act of polygamy are still practised; further more there are Christian sects such as the latter Day Saints who still practise polygamy, although such relationships are not legal within the European or American laws. The extended family can also be viewed as that of an extension to the nuclear family thru the inclusion of elders, such as grandparents, as many loan parents are female and they may well life or near their mothers, creating a matriarchal family extended unit. Extended reconstructed family, is considered to be when two opposite sex, or same sex adults with dependent children, either marry or cohabitate: thereby forming a reconstructed family – over wise known as step families. Therefore it is not surprising that the most rapidly growing family type is that of the Reconstructed / stepfamily. Statistically most children stay with their mothers when their parents either divorce or separate – so most children in a reconstructed family have step fathers – this brings in to question the social as opposed to the biological care and nurture. It is quite common in British contemporary society for cohabitation of unmarried parents. The average is 31% of all parents as quoted ( In contemporary society British society today Lone parenting is still predominately female orientated, however not exclusively as there has been a steady rise in men taking on the role of lone parenting estimates are that an average 11% of lone parents’ are now men. Attitudes in society have changed towards the lone parents. Nonetheless they are still passively ostracised from main stream society, by the media and government: as being less able, and a drain on society – this is a view most commonly associated with conservatism – as such in today’s society the conservatives plan to introduce a tax that benefits’ the traditional stereo typical nuclear family – which will effectively penalise both cohabiters and lone parents. Functionalists believed in a theory that the nuclear family is a positive social institution. Their view point is one of conservatism, which asserts it meets the needs of a contemporary industrial society. Functionalist emphasise that the ideal family type in modern society, is that of a traditional nuclear family. Their view of the nuclear family comprises of a worker husband and stay at home wife and 2.4 children. US sociologists have developed this approach, in particular Murdock, Parsons and Goode. The functional perspective on the family identifies...
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