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Assess the view that, despite recent changes in Family life, "the conventional nuclear family remains the norm"

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Introduction

Assess the view that, despite recent changes in Family life, "the conventional nuclear family remains the norm" for families and households in Britain today. The Nuclear family would be defined as a family unit consisting of 2 parents, one male and one female and their dependant children. There are many different types of people, which would all agree that the Nuclear family is the norm, such as, Functionalists and New Right thinkers. The Nuclear family is thought of like the cereal packet family, because its small, socially moveable, individual and private, meaning that society and its laws, allows its individuals to act independently. The Cereal packet theory was described by Leach, who thought that this was the Conventional family. This is the American style vision of a family. G.P Murdock compared 250 different societies and still defined the nuclear family as the unit in which all family systems are organised. Murdock says that the functions (purposes) of a family is sexual, educational (socialisation), reproductive and economic. T. ...read more.

Middle

But there are also many other people in which do not believe that the nuclear family is the norm, and who also have their own theories and statistics to prove it. In today's society you would be able to see that there are many more different types of families around other than nuclear, some of these are: Homosexual relationship, stepfamily, extended family, adoption and single parent families. Felicity Edholm (1982) believes that there is a range of variations available. She does believe Murdock's claim in the functions carried out, but thinks the family can differ and vary quite a lot, so therefore thinks that Murdock's view that the family is universal is not true. The types of groups of people in which do not believe the statement about nuclear families, are: liberals, historians and feminists. Liberals and historians think that the family has always been characterised by diversity, that there is the organisation of families, e.g, single parents, reconstituted..., there are cultural variations (Asian background), class differences (middle class, working class). ...read more.

Conclusion

H O'Connell (1994) said that, 'we can't know what a family is, only its functions', meaning that the family cannot be defined as nuclear or matrifocal, only its functions can be defined. Rhona and Rapport argue that there has been a steady decline in nuclear families from 38% to just 24% in 1992. And also supporting this argument is the fact that single parent families have increased from 2.5% to 10.1 %. The New Right has been criticised by British Feminists Abbott and Wallace (1992), they argue that the New Right ignore the variety of alternatives, such as: living alone, homosexual couple, childless couples, single parent and female breadwinners with house-hold husbands caring for their children. Therefore there is a split view of how a family is defined as normal in Britain in today's society, and that there will always be a theory, which will only prove one side of the argument and will then criticise the other side. So no family can be considered as normal or morally right at any one time. ...read more.

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