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A Review of the Article "How Have Families Changed" by Diane Gittins.

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Introduction

A Review of the Article "How Have Families Changed" by Diane Gittins In my attempts to define the concept of a family group, an initial problem that arises is one of whether or not it is possible (or indeed wise) to assume that there is such an institution as 'the' family in any society (note the emphasis on 'the', since it means that there can only be one type).1 In this respect, I have asked myself some interesting questions: 1. Is there only one type of family structure in society, or is it possible to talk about a variety of family types? 2 If there are a "variety of family types" are these types really very different from one another (that is, are they theoretically and empirically distinct) or are they simply variations on a basic family theme. Whatever the particulars of the matter (and these questions will assume a much greater importance as I move through this section of my review), a "classic definition" of "the family" is one provided by the Functionalist Sociologist George Peter Murdock ("Social Structure", 1949), when he states: "The family is a social group characterised by common residence, economic co-operation and reproduction. It includes adults of both sexes, at least two of whom maintain a socially-approved sexual relationship, and one or more children, own or adopted, of the sexually cohabiting adults". ...read more.

Middle

wife with clear gender roles.2 In contrast much of the evidence suggests that industrialisation may have followed different patterns in different industrial societies.3 The Japanese experience, for example, has been quite different form that of Britain and, consequently extended families has remained important in Japan. Jean-Flandrin (1971) also demonstrated how a variety of family types exited in different regions of France.4 The study of English parish records suggests that only 10% of households in the pre-industrial period contained extended kin. In other words, most pre-industrial families may in fact have been nuclear, and not extended as some sociologists claimed. Such small families were probably due to late marriage, early death and the practice of sending children away to become servants or apprentices. It may also be the case that industrialisation took off so quickly because nuclear families already exited - and so people could move quickly to those parts of the country where their skills were in demand. Michael Anderson's historical study (1971) of the industrial town of Preston, using census records from 1851, also contradicts Parson's view that the extended unit had been replaced by the nuclear family. Anderson found a large number of households shared by extended kin.5 These probably functioned as a mutual support system in a town in which unemployment and poverty were common. The British sociologists Young and Wilmott (1957) ...read more.

Conclusion

Moreover it also benefited men a like. I also feel one of the main effect of industrialisation was that women's prime function was defined as mother-housewife, allowing men to dominate paid work. There are however some disagreements as to whether or not women have always been subordinated and exploited in the family, or whether their subordination is a result of the growth and development of industrial capitalism.10 The article closely relates aspects of family and households within the social processes characteristic of an industrialising society, such as increasing rates of social and geographical mobility and the shift of production from the home into the factory. The article also reveals a striking continuity in the strength of nineteenth century to twentieth century family relations despite the gradual but profound process of social change surrounding these Western families which have occurred. To conclude I feel the family in the western society seems to be dwindling as a social institution. The stark figures would suggest that British society has turned its back on those things normally associated with the idea of the 'family' within one generation. We have seen many changes, mainly the following; only half as many people are getting married, lone-parent families have increased threefold, children being born outside marriage have quadrupled in numbers, and the number of divorces has trebled. However, there is strong evidence to suggest that these so-called 'changes' in the family are not so recent as one may think. ...read more.

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