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Sociology - Family

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Assess the view that despite recent changes in family life today the conventional nuclear family remains the norm for families and households in Britain today In sociology, there are many debates as to whether or not the nuclear family is still the norm in today's society. This essay will assess the theories and perspectives on this topical argument. There are many sociologists who see family diversity as a positive thing, including Giddens, Beck, Stacey, Weeks and The Rapoports. In contrast, Chester and New Right theorists think that family diversity is disrupting the stability of our society. Giddens believes there is greater choice and more equal relationships between men and women within society today. Due to contraception, he argues that relationships are now often based on sex and intimacy rather than childbirth and producing a family. ...read more.


She argues these roles may in fact be shaped by society. Although the New Right say that the nuclear family is the norm they also believe the family is in decline and that other family and household types are becoming increasingly common. The Rapoports are advocates of family diversity. They argue that it is vital for modern Britain because it embraces different cultures and lifestyles which is important in respecting everybody in society. Sociologists such as the new right theorists or functionalists challenge this view, saying that people function better in a nuclear family and learning to accept people in society can best be taught through primary socialisation. The Rapoports argue that there are five types of family diversity in modern society: organisational, cultural, social class, life stage and generational. They assert that the nuclear family is no longer the traditional, dominant family type, rejecting the view that it remains the norm for families and households in Britain today. ...read more.


Cheal says that there are no general norms and values directing family life. He does not necessarily agree with family diversity, because he says that there is greater risk of instability and there is now an increase in divorce because of this. However he says that there is an advantage with diversity because there is greater freedom for people to choose the family type they want and this flexibility enables the family to meet individual needs. On balance, Cheal's overall view on diversity undermines the argument that the nuclear family remains the norm in today's society. To conclude, although statistics show that the nuclear family is still the most common family type in today's society, family diversity is on the increase and there are many more lone-people households, same sex families, lone-parent families and reconstituted families. The claim that the nuclear family is the "the norm" is therefore difficult to justify, although it remains the most common family type in society today. ...read more.

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