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To what extent is the family a declining social institution in Britain?

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Introduction

To what extent is the family in Britain a declining Social Institution? There is a growth in the number of lone parents 23% of dependent children now live in a single parent household this compares to 7% in 1972. Some would argue that this increase shows the decline of the family unit. Others argue against this citing that even among never married single mothers in 2 out of 3 cases the mother and father were cohabiting also 85% of the births were registered jointly, both parents' names being put on the birth certificate (these statistics coming from information gathered in 2006). However the majority of lone parenthoods arise from divorce, separation or widowhood. In many of these cases apart from widowhood the absent parent, usually the father, will still play a role in the children's life and the children will still have a sense of a family. The New Right thinkers and politicians are the most likely to suggest an increase in the number of lone parent households means the social institution of the family is declining in Britain. ...read more.

Middle

Statistics can be manipulated in any way so this gets us nowhere for or against our argument. Another point to make if the issues where generally agreed upon and proven to be increasing issues would be that they might not be due to the decline of the family necessarily, they could be because of a whole variety of reasons. It can be argued that the position of blaming everything on the decline of the family is too simplistic. Another point on which the New Right blame the rise in single parents is the generous welfare given by the state, they say this encourages women to have more children than they would usually be able to afford. Now that women have greater financial independence and patriarchy could be argued to be losing its potency more and more families could be broken up because women no longer feel the need to say in unsatisfying relationships. 7 out of 10 divorces are issued by the female, this is due to changes in the laws, changing attitudes -reduced social stigma and changing expectations. ...read more.

Conclusion

From statistics such as 45% of all births are outside of marriage and a quarter of children will experience divorce by the time they are sixteen it would appear as though the family unit is in decline but the ideal could still be upheld in all other kinds of households. Postmodernists say that the traditional family unit is dead and that the family arrangements and various households' people now live in make 'the family unit' an obsolete term. I will conclude by saying this seems to be a large grey area, the nuclear family is obviously in decline but perhaps is being replaced just as effectively by the many other types of household which are rising in the country today. The task of a family is to provide support and stability to dependent children as long as this is being upheld then the family still exists and is strong in Britain today. ?? ?? ?? ?? James Murray Sociology ...read more.

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