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Family and Households

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Family and Households. In Britain, industrialization and urbanization occurred more or less together form the late 18th to the mid-19th century. Talcott Parsons believed that the nuclear family developed mainly as a result of industrialization. He thought that before the industry took over the functions of the family, the families were extended units of production. This means that the work and home lives were combined and so each family member taught another one skill for life such as education. Parsons says that the extended family stayed together so they could provide healthcare for one another and look after the old people whilst the old people looked after the young children whilst the parents were out working. ...read more.


He argued that each of those societies contains a corresponding type of family structure that fits its needs. In pre-industrial society the "best fit" was the extended families, because they had very little geographical and social mobility and they were multi-functional (e.g. welfare, protection etc) The historian Peter Laslett believed that families in pre-industrial society were nuclear, because households were likely to include only two generations, not three like Parson's claimed. A combination of late childbearing and short life expectancy made meant that grandparents were unlikely to be alive for very long after the birth of their first grandchild. After the 1750s Parson's believed that in industrial society, the dominant structure is the two-generation nuclear family of parents and their dependent children. ...read more.


At that time the working conditions in the factories were dangerous and unhealthy, people didn't get paid a lot. They were getting diseases and disabilities, early deaths weren't unusual. In these harsh conditions, it was very difficult to live as a nuclear family, that's why they all just stayed together. Willmott and Young looked specifically at the history of the family in Britain. They believed that family structure has evolved through three stages from pre-industrial times to present day. In the 1750s-1900s there was a period of disruption caused by industrialization, in which home and work have become separated. From now on, women and children weren't exploited in the factories, there was a phase of the "mum-centered" working-class extended family, based on mutual aid ties between a mother and her married daughters. ...read more.

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