Time allowed: 1hr
Total marks: 60
Recent decades have seen major changes in families and households in the United Kingdom. Some sociologists argue that, with the rise of the symmetrical family, the patriarchal power of the husband has disappeared and relationships have become more equal and democratic. However, feminists argue that women still have a dual burden to carry. There have also been many changes in the patterns of marriage. For example, the number of first marriages in England and Wales fell from almost 340 000 in 1970 to just over 161 000 in 2004. On the other hand, the number of remarriages has remained relatively constant since the early 1970s.
Equally striking have been the changes in patterns of child-bearing and child-rearing.
For example, a growing proportion of children are born to unmarried parents.
Forty per cent of births now occur outside marriage – about five times the proportion in 1971.
Many sociologists see the state’s laws and policies as having an important effect of family roles and relationships. For example, in some countries, the state has pursued policies aimed at encouraging couples to have more children by restricting access to contraception and abortion, lowering the age of marriage and so on. By contrast, in China, the state pursues a ‘one child’ policy, in which couples are offered incentives to limit their family size, such as lower taxes and preferential treatment in housing and education.
Sociologists have differing views about the impact of state policies on family life.
For example, some see state provision of welfare benefits as harmful because it undermines the family’s ‘natural’ self-reliance and promotes dependence. Others regard many policies as maintaining the subordination of women or children.
a) Explain what is meant by the dual burden Item A, line 4 (2 marks) b) Suggest 2 reasons for changes in the patterns of marriage in England and Wales