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Examine a range of diverse family structures and functions in Britain today

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Examine a range of diverse family structures and functions in Britain today Introduction Family is the most important social institution in the society. By studying the functions and structures of the family, the students can understand how to use different sociological method and how to apply the sociological theory to other topics and the common life. During the past decades, the social change has leaded diversity in the family structure and functions in Britain. In this article, I will state what are the main functions of the family and how the family structures the individuals together. I will also examine the range of diverse family structures and its functions in Britain today, following the sequences of general trends of the development of the family pattern. > Function of the family and structures of family in general What is the definition of family? In general, the family in pre-modern and modern society can be regard as a basic unit or institution in the society, especially as the family play a very important role in the socialization of further generation. The view of the functions of the pre-modern and modern family will be considered differently by using different sociological perspective. Particularly in the Functionalists' view, George Peter Murdock argues that family provides the functions for both individuals and society. The sexual and reproductive functions, where the family can function by make the sexual activity legal and less limited, as in most society the sexes and reproductions outside marriage are forbidding or inaccessible. ...read more.


The extended family can also give the advice on problems or helping financially, mainly because they share the common experiences and common interests. However, as the society develops and changes, this type of family has become less dominant than the nuclear family. The pressure on the individuals given by other members of the extended family could be responsible for this. For example, older generations in extended family usually give advice for the marriage of their children; this can cause the problems and conflicts as the further generations may lose their choices of life. In someway, the nuclear family can be seemed as the dominant pattern of family life in the modern society. It is defined as 'an independent family unit formed by a monogamous union'1, where the family is consist with parents and their children. The beliefs of nuclear family has risen rapidly mainly because that it is much easier to explore further today for the people's adventures; as the same time, the extended family, which is usually limited in certain area, has vanished. The rise of the feminist and capitalist can also be the reason for boom of the nuclear family. The feminist fought against the extended family pattern to free the women as they though the traditional family is patriarchal; And during the first stage of the industrial revolution, capitalists took production out of the household and collectivised it, under their own supervision, in the factory. What happened due to that was the members of extended family left their community to chase higher wages. ...read more.


Most people live in a household headed by a married couple. Most marriages continue until parted by death. According to Chester's argument, there's no great change in the family life, and the common nuclear family pattern still remain a strong continuity, as most of the people behave as same as that in the past. Sheena Ashford, British Social Attitudes 1987, argues that: 'there is maintenance for the attitudes towards marriage and other family matters; the British emerge as highly and consistently conventional'. Silva & Smart (1999) conclude that 'there are strong continuities in British family life, but that at the same time there was drift towards more varied forms of family organization, based they argue on more freedom of personal choice.' Conclusion Due to the development of the society, the maintenance of the extended family has been weakened. The nuclear family now can be seemed to be dominant pattern for the family life in the British society. Although in recent decade there are varied forms of new family patterns has been created from the change of nuclear family, there is a strong continuity of traditional/conventional family life. Family is the important institution in the society. In modern society, although there is a great social change compare with the past, the family still can provide many particular functions for both their members and the society as a whole. In my opinion, to consider the society as a whole, the family's functions are changing passively. As in modern Britain, other social institutions of provide more and more functions of traditional family. On another hand, the family's functions and structures are changing actively, due to that the people have more choices of life than that before. ...read more.

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