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Outline the arguments and evidence for and against the functionalist's view of the relationship between industrialisation and family structures.

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Outline the arguments and evidence for and against the functionalist's view of the relationship between industrialisation and family structures. Industrialisation is the transformation of societies from being agricultural to industrial, which took place in the eighteen and nineteenth centuries. Functionalists have many views on the issues of industrialisation and family structures. One of the leading functionalists was Talcott Parsons. He expressed many views on these issues. He and many other functionalists believed that industrialisation led to greater geographical mobility and the loss of regular contact with extended kin. They also said that the larger and wider family network was no longer important nor required, as emotional and personal needs would now be met by the nuclear unit. ...read more.


All members of the family, whatever age or sex, would be involved in some aspect of work such that duty and obligation to the family and community were key values in the pre-industrial societies. However, although all members of the family were involved in working to maintain the health of the family, the infant mortality rate was high and there was a low life expectancy. The functionalist view maintains that the nuclear unit allows for a more mobile workforce to meet the needs of modern society. It was also said that such a unit encouraged achievement, whereas in pre-industrial society jobs were created through the existing family trade (primarily agriculture) rather than through educational achievement. ...read more.


Others also cast doubt on the assumption that the extended family was the norm in pre-industrial society. One such individual was Peter Laslett who used evidence relating to population, size, birth and death rates and household composition to argue that the pre-industrial family was in fact a nuclear one. Other theorists have also argued that no one family structure was dominant or that family structure was influenced by the class system. It has also been argued that the issue is not simply whether there is a nuclear family or extended family structure, because other factors are relevant, such as various support networks which surround the family group. In conclusion it would seem that the functionalist view of the relationship between industrialisation and family structure can be regarded as over-simplistic or, at the very least, one which is open to challenge. ...read more.

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