Topics: Family, Nuclear family, Extended family Pages: 8 (2680 words) Published: March 11, 2015

ID: 1066385
ESL 140 – COURSE # 7052-1
NOVEMBER 25th, 2003

Society is composed of many elements based on values, traditions, cultures, government’s policies etc.; and family is one of the main basic ingredients, forming the society. Therefore, as the society changes its element, family is also forced to change the flow of life. Yet, during the past 50 years, our society has undergone big social transformations which are seen as “dramatic and unparallel changes” or a “veritable revolution”. Thus, the two basic forms of family, the extended family and the nuclear family, are losing their original social function, meaning and power gradually. They no longer stay at their “baby forms”; they have been changed radically because of the innovation of society. In this paper, we will examine the transmutations of these two typical families: the nuclear family is represented by the United States, and on the other side, the extended family is shown by Japan.

Firstly, in order to realize the changes in different families of society nowadays, we have to understand what these families are, what their original structures are and how they work. In fact, in “Family Structure and Society”, Pakenham clearly shows the forms and functions of the extended family and the nuclear family. We will examine the changes in nuclear family that is represented by the United States.

The term “traditional nuclear family”, according to Pakenham’s article, is defined as an unit family, which consists only of a husband and a wife. One sociologist, Talcott Parsons, has suggested that this nuclear family is a common family pattern in the United States and most Westernized industrial societies. The members of this type of family are totally separated apart from both the larger kin group and the workplace, economically independent and physically separated from their original families. Also, in the 1920’s and the period before Women’s Liberation, employment in the traditional nuclear family was strictly divided: the husband was the sole contributor of the income to the family, the wife was a full time housewife restricted to child care. Moreover, child rearing was utterly the responsibility of the husband and the wife at that time. Moreover, the nuclear family was built on a “romantic love” foundation which other family’s members have no involvement in their son or daughter’s marriage decision. Thus, the nuclear family at that time was seen as a “social obligation” institution. However, looking at the nuclear family since last 50 years, the question is asked, “Does this traditional nuclear still exist in its original forms?” According to the arguments of Footlick (1990) and Popenoe (1991), the answer for this question might be “No” because this family form was losing its pinnacle and dominance in the middle of the twentieth century. Transformations in society such as women rights, government’s regulations, marital values and cultures etc. lead to the change in the American family particularly into different directions. These directions result from the alteration of both the ideal and the reality of the traditional nuclear family: the emotional and financial needs and desire from the kin group, the movement of women in the labour force market, the sexual revolution and the new establishment of family’s forms. The first change is the desire of nuclear family members toward their kin group. In “The changing American Family”, Marvin B. Susman (1959) has provided some studies about this change that American families have moved closer to their kin group, as one aspect of the extended family, compared with original definition of the nuclear family, in order to get more support emotionally and economically from their parents. In one study, she has...

References: Pakenham, K.J. (1998).Family Structure and Society. Making connection. New York: Cambridge University Press. (271-284)
David Popenoe. (1991). Breakup of the Family: Can we reverse the trend?. In K.J Pakenham (Eds.). Making connection. New York: Cambridge University Press. (308 – 323)
Footlick, J.R. (1990). The Changing American Family. In K.J Pakenham (Eds.). Making connection. New York: Cambridge University Press. (294-306)
Donald Light, Jr., & Suzanne, Keller. (1982). Divorce. In K.J Pakenham (Eds.). Making connection. New York: Cambridge University Press. (277-279)
Nonoyama, Hisaya. (2000). The Family and Family sociology in Japan. Retrieve November 24, 2003 from Academic Search Premier Database (item 4060216). Available from the University of Alberta Library Website.
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