Using material from Item 2B and elsewhere, assess the view that the nuclear family is no longer the norm. (24 marks) A nuclear family is a common type of family that consists of two parent living with their biological children (immediate family), this type of family is considered the norm. An example of a nuclear family is ‘The Simpsons’. Leach calls this the ‘cereal packet’ family which is shown as the perfect family, there’s a lot of respect, care and value for each other. Although this is seen as the norm, society today is heading towards a more diverse variety of family structures. According to Office for National Statistics, research has shown that in 1996 there were 5,223 nuclear families and in 2012 the number of nuclear families has decreased to 4,610 families. It could be argued that the nuclear family is longer the norm because statistics even support this. One particular reason for this would be that the divorce rate has increased, research shows that now 40% of marriages now end in divorce. This would then leaned to lone-parent (single) families and reconstituted families. In the 1940s women were seen as housewives and mothers that didn’t have any other life, having an education was simply out of the question. Whereas women today go into much further education as men which therefore gives them a much higher status and independence. This may be the reason for why divorce rates have increased rapidly. The main reason for why women used to get married was to reproduce as they couldn’t do anything else other than that. Women had no financial support for which they had to rely on their husbands. In today’s society women don’t need any financial support as they are independent and self-reliant. Feminist’s state that they are exploited within the family, they are taken advantage of. They have to do all the housework, cooking and serve the men which oppress he women. However there are many advantages of a nuclear family such as; financial stability for the household, better upbringing for the children from both parents, more stable, financial and emotional support- they work together and are more resilient. On the other hand there also advantages such as; the family becomes isolated from their extended families (although this is not always the case), if both parent are working they may need to look for a child-minder to take care of their child which requires more money, grandparents, aunts and uncles should have a place within the family, but a nuclear family does not create one for them. The most important disadvantage is that family members, mainly mothers tend to burn out from attempting to meet everyone’s needs alone. The mother is the cook, maid babysitter and in some families the money maker. Stress, depression, anxiety or other problems can all be a results of a nuclear family burnout.
Many of the reasons for changing patterns of marriage are that attitudes to marriage has changed. It is now a widespread belief that it’s more important for the individuals to be able to choose the type of relationship they want because they are the ones who are going to take it further, not their legal status. It is now becoming acceptable for people to have children outside of marriage, remain single and have a cohabitation relationship. Another major reason for people not getting married is that people fear divorce. They may have had bad experiences or seen their parent’s relationship end in a divorce because of which they might have been put off. There has been a big rise in cohabitation, this is when an unmarried are living together and are in a sexual relationship. Cohabitation is one of the fastest growing family type in the UK; there are over 2 million cohabiting couples in Britain. Reconstituted (stepfamilies) families is a family that consists of divorced couples that have now...
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