Sociology of Everyday Life

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Title:Does parenting shape social divisions in society or do social divisions shape parenting?|

The study of family has always been a broad discipline which involves a great number of research ranging from family unit such as ‘family forms’, ‘parenting’ and child development; to the society scale, such as ‘social divisions’ and ‘demography’. Given its diversity and changing nature, family studies also includes controversies and debates. One of the topics that have been the subjects of debates is the interaction between parent’s upbringing and the division of the society. Clearly put, parenting is regarded as a process involving ‘a set of intellectual, emotional and material adjustments enabling adults to become parents’ (Daly, 2007, P11), while social division is the process through which the social categories such as class, race and gender are established and maintained (Best, 2005, p8). This essay will discuss how parenting shapes social divisions with reference to three aspects, namely generation, gender as well as race and ethnicity. In the first place, there are two reasons why generational division is considered one of the elements affecting parenting styles. Firstly, people born at the same period of time often have similar experience of life thus may have a distinctive parenting methods. Gilleard and Higgs (2002) described this ‘generation’ as having a ‘share temporal location’ and noted as ‘birth cohort’ or ‘generational site’. Each generation is molded by knowledge and skills during their critical developmental periods. The combination of similar life experience may shape how family rules are established. For example, Ruggles (1987) pointed out that there was an increase in the frequency of extended families during the eighteenth century resulted from the functional adaption of the extended family to industrial society. This helped modifying the old theory that there was a shift from extended to nuclear family structure and also indicated that this rise brought about a revolution in family attitudes and relationships, ‘they had an acute sense of obligation to kin, and were often willing to support relatives at great economic and psychic cost’ (Ruggles, 1987). The point is that birth cohort parents tend to have fairly similar parenting practices according to socio-economic conditions. Secondly, change of the young generation is also one of the elements which influence parenting. Trzesniewski and Donnellan (2010) indicated the creation of a unique generation of young people over the last decades based on a large sample of US high school seniors. They also cited from Twenge (2006) that current young generation which has been labeled ‘Generation Me’ because they seem to have a heightened sense of egotism, self-esteem, and expectations for their future. Therefore it is clear that patterns of parenting might have to adapt to this change in order to meet children’s needs in the physical, emotional, intellectual and social spheres. Furthermore, Trzesniewski and Donnellan (2010) also argued that today’s youth are less intimidated of social problems and more cynical and less trusting than they were before. Because of this negative tendency of ‘Generation Me’, it is essential that there should be increasing attention to intensive parenting in order to prevent any antisocial behaviour which may lead to juvenile delinquency. Indeed the government does have policy to tackle youth crime which target families and parents known as Parenting Order (Youth Justice, 2002). As a result, this demonstrates how social division, specifically the young generation, contributes significantly to the formation of parenting disciplines. In general, the effects of generational division are shown not only on parent but also on children perspective. In the second place, given that the effects of gender occupy many aspects in our life, the difference between mothering and fathering within family is also taken into account from two perspectives,...
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