Discuss the view that the nuclear family replaced the extended family after industrialisation.
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SOCIOLOGY HOMEWORK, Discuss the view that the nuclear family replaced the extended family after industrialisation. Talcott Parsons believed that the nuclear family developed mainly as a result of industrialisation. He thought that before the industry took over the functions of the family, the families were extended units of production. This means that the work and home lives were combined and so each family member taught another one skill for life such as education. Parsons says that the extended family stayed together so they could provide health care for one another and look after the old people whilst the old people looked after the young children whilst the parents were out working. They also pursued justice on behalf of one another; if one family member were hard done by, all the other family members would help sort it out. Parsons believed that the industrial revolution brought about three fundamental changes.
In the second stage, the Early Industrial family were extended families beginning to become geographically mobile, dying out and becoming less common. In the third stage, the Symmetrical family was the beginning of the nuclear family, where they had split up from extended family into father, mother, and two children. However, there are criticisms to the functionalist view that the industrial revolution brought about the nuclear family. Peter Laslett was a social historian who believed that pre and post industrial families were mostly nuclear. He studied Northern Europe and found that families were not likely to consist of a nuclear family structure, but he also found that the average size of families in Western Europe stayed constant at 4.75 persons, which gives us reason to believe that nuclear families were around before the industrial revolution. Laslett therefore does not agree with Parsons or Willmott and Young, as he believes families were already nuclear pre-industry and still are today.
She conducted a study of working class women in three different Lancashire towns. She found that kinship links between the women in the family were extremely strong and they often gave each other practical, emotional and sometimes even financial support, as well as giving the same types of support to the rest of the family. She believes this is the main reason why extended families were not wiped out at the beginning of the industrial revolution. She believes the extended families are still around today, so that they have more people to socialise with instead of just being stuck with their partner and/or children. I believe that the nuclear family is more common than the extended families today. However there are other types of family structure around to be considered and so I do not believe that it is just the industrial revolution that has changed mostly extended families into other family structures but it also has to do with other factors that have occurred. :) Rose Lewis 12JDN :)
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