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Examine the view that nuclear family did not exist in Britain before industrialisation

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Examine the view that nuclear family did not exist in Britain before industrialisation Whist Britain was undergoing industrialisation, a lot of societal changes took place. Changes that not only affected population but had an impact on family life and the way it was run. Parsons (1955) believed that families were mainly extended before industrialisation which meant that nuclear families didn't exist during pre-industrialisation. These extended needed the kinship to be able to be producers as it was mainly an agricultural economy, so they would work together mainly farming as their labour. This was then used to provide clothes, shelter, and food etc. So the family network was a strong one as they played different roles in the household to maintain it. That is why Parsons believed that all this changed when the manufacturing economy came into place, and this caused four major changes to the family. This new economy was now demanding a workforce which was more geographically mobile, so to take advantage of this opportunity people were more likely to move away from their villages to the towns, therefore the family ties were broken and nuclear family was formed. ...read more.


This was believed to be a natural division of labour because women are known for their maternal instincts and would be best for child upbringing; Parsons found the partner's relationships were complementary to each other each contributing with their own unique roles. He concluded that due this nuclear unit the economy thrived and only because of this it was more effective, because the outcome of this was the work force required was now geographically mobile which was needed for this industrialisation. However there are many criticisms of Parson's theory as Peter Laslett's (1971 study of English parish shows indifferent results to what parsons had said about no nuclear families existing during pre-industrialisation. The records showed that it was only 10 per cent of households with extended families during the pre-industrialisation time which contradicts Parsons Theory. Laslett has shown with his study that the nuclear family unit was predominant, and sociologists claimed this was an important factor in speeding up the process of industrial revolution, as families were already geographically mobile. Even then Laslett's study was based on statistics which doesn't give a true or detailed insight in to what the families actually did. ...read more.


In the 1950s they did a study in London, Bethnal Green. Here they found that even at that time when industrialisation had advanced there were still a large proportion of existing extended families. It was a slow change due to the tight family network which was bonded with emotional attachment, and support in childcare, jobs and money matters. They also claimed that it was after the 1960s when the extended families went in decline, which also contradicts Parsons perspective. This was when the working-class were rehoused and the education act came about allowing people to move away from home to achieve higher jobs etc. Thus it slowly separated the nuclear families as geographical mobility was needed. In conclusion they saw that it was in the late 20th century when it became more of a social norm. Overall the view that nuclear families didn't exist before industrialisation does not have enough evidence to back the point. Now there is still discussion over this view over whether or not nuclear unit families were either the product of industrialisation or the cause. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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