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As society has become more industrial, the family has changed structurally along withit and due to it.

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Introduction

As society has become more industrial, the family has changed structurally along with it and due to it. In pre-industrial times the family generally contained members of kin, in what has been described as the 'extended' family. This group worked together, mainly in agriculture or textiles in rural areas. With the introduction of mechanical means of production and factories, the population migrated into towns and cities. It was here that the family became more streamlined with individual members earning wages independently rather than as a collective unit. Also, with the modernisation of society, came institutions such as hospitals and schools. This paper will consider what emerged as the modern nuclear family and how its role and structure has changed along with the society we live in. It looks at two variations of family structure and how they may have come about. Firstly though we shall look at some sociological theories of what the family is and what it does. One theory, of the family being a functionalist unit is held by Parsons (1955).He sees the traditional nuclear family, mother, father and their offspring as being ideal to satisfy the needs of both family members and society as a whole. ...read more.

Middle

In society there are family types that do not fit in with this archetypal image and yet exist. One type is the reconstituted family. This can take the form that one or more of the adults have been previously married, and also that either individual may have children of their own. These children may be brought to the new family and reside with step-brothers or sisters. According to Taylor et. al. (1995), this type of family is becoming more common in society, with an estimated six million people living this way. Further data released by National Census (2001), has put this figure at around 8% of the population of England and Wales. This would indicate that although people are experiencing break-ups they do attempt to recreate a semi-conventional family set-up; mother, father and children. Another type of family that has been the subject of sociological research is the lone parent family. This consists of one parent, usually female and child or children. There are defined reasons why this family originates. Haralambos (2000), states these to be; in the instance of a married couple, that they may have legally divorced, separated or that one of the parents had died. In the case of unmarried couples; both parents may have lived together at the time of birth of their child and stopped cohabitating sometime after or indeed that they may have not lived together at all. ...read more.

Conclusion

There is the reconstituted family where adults come from past relationships or families, maybe bringing their children with them. They could be viewed as recreating their own version of the traditional family in which to find personal satisfaction and an environment in which to rear their own or collective children. They may hold the view that this is the best place to do this: a secure, loving habitat. This can be illustrated in the theories put forward by Parsons and Murdock's terminology which conjures up the image of what families should consist of and do; the ideal familial set-up. But we can also see that not everybody is prepared to endure a less than favourable relationship in pursuit of these ideals. This is apparent in the increasing amount of lone parent families which, as stated, are in the majority of cases, headed by women. The ability to branch out independently from unsuitable partners has come about through a change in social attitudes towards this type of family, and more importantly changes in law surrounding equality, marriage and divorce. If an individual finds that their marriage does not meet their expectations, or fulfil their family ideal, laws are in place to allow people to reconsider their family structure and role. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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