Sociology Postmodern theories of the family
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Outline and discuss postmodern theories of the family The principles of postmodern views of the family are that there is much wider range of living opportunities available nowadays, because of social and cultural changes. As other theories believe that nuclear family is dominant family type within society, postmodernists disagree with this opinion and have different view. The New Right and functionalists see the family as a structure that shapes the behaviour of its members. However, postmodernists argue that this structural approach ignores moral relativism of individuals that they always have a choice of family type and nobody can judge them. Also modernists ignore the increase of family diversity; however there is no 'best' family type anymore. Tamara Hareven (1978) says that we should examine each family member, not whole family, to understand how family live and how they make their choices. This sociologist created life course analysis which shows flexibility of family lives choices.
Postmodernists argue that the world is not predictable anymore. Society entered a new chaotic postmodern phase where is no dominant family type and there are more opportunities of the life style. That gives a freedom to create family relationships which are more suitable for certain individuals. A freedom of choice makes the relationships unstable though. There where other perspectives developed on the family. Anthony's Giddence (1992) theory of choice and equality argues that it was transformation in the family and marriage, and in relationships between male and female. The main reasons of that were availabilities of contraception which reduced the reason of reproduction in the relationships. Also, an improvement in the contraception of women who continued their education and started to work is a result of feminism. Those changes affected family types, as then they can choose the relationship they want despite of the law and traditions.
Sociologist Judith Stacey (1998) said, as society entered a new postmodern stage, women gained more opportunities in their lifestyle. The emancipation of patriarchal oppression allowed women to create new family structure. Women gained opportunity to work, study, divorce and re-marry what led to creation of 'divorce extended family' where members are connected by divorce. Postmodernists try to show the rise of individualism of people, diverse in families as a important feature of postmodern society. Jeffrey Week (2000) said that families continue to be fairly traditional and acceptance of diversity is growing. The sexual behaviour became a personal choice as well, because of secularisation and last of state power on individual's choices. There are two opinions formed the issue of family diversity, looking at different sociologists' approaches. The functionalists and New Right have a view against diversity, as they insists that nuclear family is the best type of family and that traditional gender roles are dominant in society. Otherwise, postmodernists and feminists believe that family diversity is a positive thing, which gives freedom, equal relationships and choices for individuals.
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