One perspective on the changing functions of the family is post modernism. Sociologist Giddens (1992) believes that a ‘in post modern society relationships are emotional and reflexive therefore this accounts for the diversity of family types and increasing flexibility within an individuals own life time’. Sociologists Beck and Beck - Gernsheim (1995) agrees stating ‘ individuals don’t have as many strict guidelines to follow with regards to relationships. We now produce our own rules on how we want our relationship to run’. There is now a higher expectation in relationships and marriages. Postmodernists stress the chaos and uncertainty in society and argue that social structures like the family are breaking down, people now live in such a wide range of ever changing personal relationships. Unlike functionalists they believe social structures cease to exist, to be replaced by a mass of individuals making individual choices about their lifestyles.(Ken Browne 2006)
Functionalists strongly disagree with the postmodernism views. Sociologist Talcott Parsons developed a school of thought known as structural functionalism.He believed that Family, Education, Economy, Politics and Cultural are all interlinked. Functionalists recognise that families in Britain has gone through many changes since industrialisation, Parsons are very much of the opinion that nuclear families are best equipped to meet needs of the society. He found evidence that segregated conjugal roles are most functional. Parsons stated that the family is losing many of its traditional functions which are being transferred to more specialised institutes eg, Education and Health system, he calls this process structural differentiation he believes that there are now two main functions of the contemporary family, Primary socialisation of children and stabilisation of adult personalities. Sociologist Fletcher (1966) disputes this claiming that the family actually has more responsibilities than ever before. Feminists also believe that the family described by parsons is an oppressive institute that benefits men and oppresses and exploits men.
Both perspectives post modernism and functionalism play a huge part in understanding diversity in contemporary families.
Its is also important to note that the roles of women and men are changing within the family. In previous times nuclear families were the main family type, men and women had segregated conjugal roles and the family was highly functional. However in current times this has changed. families with joint conjugal roles are more common, women are more likely to have careers now than in previous times and due to economic reasons women are more likely to have to return to work once they have a child.The Office for National Statistics research showed that at the end of 2010 66% of mothers are in some form of work should that be full time or part time. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/jobs/hr-news/8418203/More-mothers-working-full-time.html)...