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"Assess Sociological Explanations for the Relationship between the Family and Industrialisation"

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Introduction

"Assess Sociological Explanations for the Relationship between the Family and Industrialisation" There were several different views on exactly what the relationship was between Industrialisation and its effect on the family. Most sociologists accept the idea that before Industrialisation, trends in the family suggested that they lived and worked together as an extended family. This type of family unit and how it changed is central to the arguments of several key researchers. Parsons, a functionalists, argued that pre-industrial (extended) family performed many of the functions that modern society now serves. (Such as education / support / and health). He believe that in the present, due to structural differentiation, more specialised institutions have risen in modern society. Parsons argues that there are now only two basic family functions left today: The primary socialisation of children and the stabilisation of adult personalities Parsons view is fairly controversial as he is criticised by many other sociologists that have formed strong arguments against his ideas.

Middle

Willmott and Young believe in the privatisation and promotion of the nuclear family. A new institution, much smaller and self contained, mainly with the individuals expressing themselves within this unit. They agree with Parsons Idea of specialisation of the isolated nuclear family, yet they also produced their own theory: The Three Historical stages of the family. (Pre-Industrial, early industrial, and symmetrical stages). Authors such as Parsons, Willmott, Young, and Fletcher have all suggested that it was the process of industrialisation that brought the later symmetrical stages, which contrasted to their prequel stages. They believe that the along side the isolated nuclear family, there emerged the modified extended family (in which through the use of technology such as the phone, there can be maintenance of contact and support across great distances). Anderson did research based on the historical research carried out by Preston, intent on showing the rise of the Modified Extended Nuclear Family that came about due to hardship in early industrial times.

Conclusion

I believe that the industrial revolution brought about a massive change in the structure of society, and that the fact that the family has changed is agreed by all. Functionalists believe that family adapted smoothly so as to fulfil the demands of the industrial society while surviving. To do this it needed to modify the extended family, and become more dependant internally for support. Marxists believe that the revolution preyed upon the working classes by locking them into dull, alienating roles of work. The integration of unfair employment terms and the new machines, allowed capitalism to rise and dominate in modern society. Whether either is right, it is true that the nuclear family is common today. The working class has not revolted in most industrialised countries, and the fact that society continues to function without visible friction, suggests that a state of harmony has been achieved. Marxists would suggest this harmony is a mere illusion, but I believe the functionalist approach of adaptation and indefinite stability is the most relevant, and well backed up here.

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