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Assess the claim that industrialisation led to the break-up of the extended family.

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Introduction

Assess the claim that industrialisation led to the break-up of the extended family For the first half of the twentieth century, it was assumed that there was a clear pattern in the relationship between industrialisation and the changing structure of the family. It was believed that within a pre-industrialised society, the extended family was the most common form of family structure and that when people moved to the factories and cities the family shrank to become nuclear. Sociologists have provided studies into this theory to support the statement that industrialisation led to the break-up of the extended family, whilst others have provided theories that challenge it. Item B discusses Parson's theory on industrialisation. He argues that 'the pre-industrial extended family was a multi functional unit that met most of people's needs' and that modernisation caused 'institutional differentiation, as specialised institutions emerged to meet particular needs' resulting in the family loosing many of its functions. ...read more.

Middle

Anderson argues that this idea is 'over simple' and that industrialisation increased people's dependency on their families as some members went out to work. He discovered that in the 1850's families in the newly industrialised north lived close to their kin because of needing help in sickness and in helping each other find work. This theory is backed up by Chris Harris (in Anderson 1980) who states that 'there is no hard evidence to support this view of transforming effect of industrialisation on family structure.' Anderson's theory is valuable as it shows that industrialisation actually encouraged the growth of the extended family and that the family was just broken down into different households. Laslett also disagrees with Parson's theory claiming that the extended family was not the ordinary institution for pre-industrial England and that this is just a 'matter of ideology'. He states that the nuclear family 'predominates numerically almost everywhere, even in under developed parts of the world' and that the extended family, although existing, was never dominate. ...read more.

Conclusion

The most common structure of the Asian family is the nuclear family but this does not mean the importance of extended family ties has diminished. Asian families travel miles to be together for family events and attend Sunday gatherings where the warmth and support of the family is shared. The forming of the nuclear family among ethnic minority families is said to be down to immigration patterns not industrialisation and the nuclear family is also most common in Caribbean families. However, studies from Sallie Westwood and Parminder Bhachu warn of generalisations in Asian households and Ann Phoenix says there is 'no more a typical Afro Caribbean family than a typical white family'. Another issue to consider is the structure of families from different classes. Elizabeth Bott in 1957 found that joint conjugal roles were more likely to be apparent in middle class families where there is no rigid value system of peer pressure. In working class families roles are segregated due to tight-knit kins and friendships. ...read more.

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