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Examine the view that nuclear families didnt exist in the UK before the industrial revolution

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Examine the view that nuclear families didn't exist in the UK before the industrial revolution Since the industrial revolution, many theories have suggested that the nuclear family was non-existent in the UK until the industrial revolution. Many functionalists believe this theory, such as Parsons. Parsons believed that people were moving away from their extended family in the countryside, to towns and cities to take advantage of the job opportunities. Further, more, he believed that using the family as a work force had been made obsolete by specialized agencies, creating the goods and providing the services that the extended family would have provided as a work force. Parsons decided that only the nuclear family could provide the necessary structure needed to aid the working life. ...read more.


The nuclear family suited the needs of society more because its small size made it more mobile and the mobility weakened family ties and obligations. However historian and politician, Peter Laslett disagreed with this. Laslett checked parish records and found that the most common family structure in pre-industrial times was a nuclear family, only 10% of families were classic extended during pre-industrial times. This was because couples married late, had children late and died early, so it was rare that more than two generations were alive at the same time. Like Laslett, feminist Oakley also disagreed with Wilmott and Young. She found that, pre-industrially, people lived in small family units working in cottage type industries or living off the land producing enough to survive. ...read more.


The 1901 census data (and other census data) also shows the findings of Wilmott and Young were incorrect. The examination of the 1901 and previous census data shows that classic extended families were common. Wilmott and Young's research on changes in family structures suggests that there has been a rise in the number of nuclear families during and after the industrial revolution and nuclear families will continue to exist during the future because of the theory of functional fit. However other researchers have found evidence of common existence of extended families. I believe that, over time, families have changed from classic extended to modified extended families. But there is a range of family types that exist in Britain today as areas and cultures differ. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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