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Using material from Item A and elsewhere, assess sociological explanations of the nature and extent of family diversity today (24 marks)

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Introduction

Using material from Item A and elsewhere, assess sociological explanations of the nature and extent of family diversity today (24 marks) The nuclear family is portrayed as the perfect family on most advertising. The 'cereal packet' family, dad, mum and two kids all perfectly bronzed and all smiles. This idea was described by Edmund Leach in 1967 but is the nuclear family still the norm in our society today as family diversity is increasing? Rapoport, Rapoport and Fogarty would suggest that this is not the case any longer due to increased family diversity. They identified five different types of family diversity in Britain. Organisational diversity refers to division of labour within the family and differences in the ways family roles are organised. Cultural diversity is diversity due to religious and ethnic influences. Social class diversity- there are differences between working and middle classes in terms of adult relationships, the socialisation of children etc. ...read more.

Middle

and expressive (females) roles. They see this family as natural and based on fundamental biological differences. The New Right argue that the increase in family diversity is the cause of lots of social problems such as higher crime rates and educational failure. They argue that family breakdown ( where the family is no longer a patriarchal nuclear family) increases the risks to children. According to Amato (2000) children in these families face higher risks of poverty, educational failure, crime and health problems as well as increased risk of family breakdown when they become an adult themselves. Postmodernists believe that family structures are fragmented and individuals have much more choice in their lifestyles, personal relationships and family arrangements however we live in a risk society where making choices involves calculating the rewards and risks of the different courses and actions. They believe that family diversity gives individuals greater freedom to plot their own life course- to choose the kind of family and personal relationships that meet their needs. ...read more.

Conclusion

On the other hand functionalists believe that the nuclear family has a function to play in our society. They believe that the family has broken down and a return to traditional family values is needed in order to prevent social disintegration. They, like the New Rights, also believe in having a clear cut division of labour with the instrumental bread-winner husband and the expressive home-maker wife. Robert Chester agrees that there has been an increase in family diversity over recent decades however he does not think that this is important. He argues that the only important change is from the predominance of the conventional nuclear family to what he calls the 'neo-conventional family' (a dual earner family in which both spouses go out to work). Chester argues that most people are not choosing to live in alternatives to the nuclear family on a long term scale and the nuclear family is still an ideal which most people aim for. ...read more.

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