Using Material from Item a and Elsewhere Assess Sociological Explanations of the Nature and Extent of Family Diversity Today.

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Using material from Item A and elsewhere assess sociological explanations of the nature and extent of family diversity today.

Family diversity is the idea that there are a range of different family types, rather than a single dominant one like the nuclear family. It is associated with the post-modernists idea that in today’s society increasing choice about relationships is creating greater family diversity.

Item A makes clear that different sociologists ‘are divided over both the extent of family diversity and its importance’. The Functionalists and the New Rights view increased family diversity as ‘a serious threat’; whilst Robert Chester argues in recent years there has been a ‘shift from the conventional to the neo-conventional family’.

In today’s society there are many different family types the nuclear family which makes up the largest percentage of family types in the UK, single parent families, co-habiting families, gay families, inter-racial families, reconstituted families, joint families and transsexual families. This is interesting because in previous societies, this variety of family types would not have been accepted however in today’s society family diversity is much more easily accepted.

However functionalists and the New Rights tend to have very traditional opinions on family diversity, they believe that anything that deviates from the nuclear family is negative and unnatural and individuals raised in different family types will not have the stability necessary to make them valuable members of society.

Charles Murray of the New Right perspective, associated children born out of wedlock or ‘illegitimates’ with the ‘underclass’. He suggested the fathers of theses ‘illegitimates’ were ‘unskilled young men, who were unwilling to take up uninspiring work’. He believed the mothers of these ‘illegitimates’ ‘would be better off on benefits’ than marrying these ‘unskilled young men’. These illegitimate children with unemployed, uninvolved fathers were the ones out on the street during the London Riots. This suggests that in today’s society the children who are not brought up in the traditional ‘stable’ nuclear family type, but in the ‘underclass’ of today’s society end up as unstable youths who cause anarchy on the streets and riddle today’s society with problems.

Parsons argued through his ‘Functional Fit’ theory that the industrialisation of Britain forced nuclear families upon us. He argued that when families moved from the country farms to the industrial cities the link with their extended families wore away. Parsons believed that as they were no longer reliant on them the extent of their relationship decreased. However, Laslett opposed Parsons view and using parish records proved that the nuclear family was in fact the norm for 90% of preindustrial Britain due to the shorter life expectancies and infant mortality.

In today’s society, the recession has hit everybody hard. However some more than others have had to rely on the help of their extended family to get through this tough economical crisis, for example young parents have had to rely on their own parents so that they can go out to work this proves that the extent of peoples reliance on their extended family is great in today’s society.

In today’s society not only do we have the traditional, three-generational family but due to advancements in medical care and increased life expectancies we are now beginning to have four-generational families known as ‘beanpole families’. Sociologists like Julia Brannen argue that the ‘detraditionalism’ of today’s society has allowed people to create their own family types and structures and has given rise to ‘intergenerational’ families. However, with the high divorce rates and smaller family sizes in today’s society, Brannen argues that the bonds between extended family members are as strong now as they ever have been. People rely on their family for support and when asked Wilmott found that two thirds...
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