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Examine the view that the nuclear family did not exist in Britain before industrialisation

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Examine the view that the nuclear family did not exist in Britain before industrialisation Parsons (1955) a functionalist, argued that the nuclear family did not in Britain before industrialisation. Parsons argued that the pre-industrial families were primarily based on a extended kinship network. The extended family was responsible for the production of food, clothing and shelter for its members, this meant that the extended family lived and worked together, and that the roles within this family were a product of ascription rather than achievement. Members of the family rarely left home to work or live, and hardly ever rejected the roles and status given to them, this was probably because obligation and commitment to the family and community were the key values in pre-industrial times. ...read more.


The nuclear family had also given very clear roles to its adult members, unlike the extended family where all members were equally involved in providing for the family. The male of the family is now the Instrumental leader, responsible for the economic needs of the family, whereas the female is the expressive leader, primarily responsible for the family's emotional welfare and the socialisation of children. This again, in parsons view meant that the extended family was no longer needed and that only the nuclear family could provide what was needed in the new industrial society. However, there are many criticisms of parsons view. Studies of pre-industrial parish records suggest that only 10 per cent of households contained extended kin, meaning that the nuclear family unit was the predominant family structure in many area's rather than the extended family as parson claimed. ...read more.


They also found that the extended family was still based upon a mutual support network and was providing its members with financial help, advice and childcare. Willmott and Young argue that the extended family only went into decline in the 1960's when working class communities were re-housed in towns and council estates. Willmott and Young suggest that the nuclear family only became the norm in the late twentieth century, greatly contradicting parsons perspective. The view that the nuclear family did not exist before industrialisation has been criticised for not providing enough evidence to back up the claim and that parsons idea's are outdated. However there are still many arguments about when the nuclear family was formed, and whether it was a product of industrialisation, or perhaps, a cause. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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