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The focus of this piece of coursework is the changing nature of family life given the extent of fatherless families in modern Britain.

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Introduction

Hypothesis The focus of this piece of coursework is the changing nature of family life given the extent of fatherless families in modern Britain. Functionalists such as parsons and Murdock will be researched, as well as the views of Damos and Sapsfors to comment on the impact of fatherless families. My interest in fatherless family stems from my own personal family experience of having divorce parents and living in one parent family headed by my mother. I have therefore developed the hypothesis: The recent growth of fatherless families has lead to many manifests dysfunctions of the family. Context and concepts George Murdock's classic study provides the focus for my work; the nuclear family performs four basic functions in all societies. Which he turned the sexual, reproductive, economical and education. He describes the family as a social group characterised by common residence, economic co- operation and reproduction. It includes an adult of each sex, who maintain a socially approves sexual relationship and one or more children of the sexually cohabitating adults. Therefore from this definition it is clear that 'fatherless families' which exist in today's society are not considered from a functionalist perspective as normal. ...read more.

Middle

My designed questionnaire would include closed questions with a self-completion layout to produce quantitative data which would allow me to easily organise, classify and analyse the information collected. My sample method would be opportunist as I would hand out my questionnaire to a group of single parents from a club such as 'Gingerbread' (a membership for single parent families). The national headquarters (London) would be approached to gain the name and address of two local clubs, one serving an inner city community and the other serving a suburban community. Consent from the relevant 'gatekeeper' of each club would be gained by informing the club of the questionnaires aims and confidentiality of data. I would research the similarities and differences of 50 families from the two specific membership clubs. Ideally 25 families from each club ensuring that a stratified sample of female-headed families of working and middle class background is obtained. By comparing the information I received from each family, this would enable me to spot trends among the information I should collect. Parents were asked to complete the questionnaire with the researcher present to ensure a high response data and therefore generalise the data. ...read more.

Conclusion

Crucially the reliability of data could be affected due to the effect of self-selected responses. I may also have problems with the wording of the questions. I should make sure that I use simple, everyday language to avoid confusion about the meaning of each question and I must also make sure that the questions are not leading or too vague. The sample could introduce bias because the composition of the two' gingerbread' clubs could be of only one or two types of single parents. For example there may be a lack of black single mothers if the club is held in a mainly 'white' area of the Northern City which is the focus of the research. Given this problem the findings will lack generalisability. The theoretical problems I could face are based on the positivitist methodological option I choose to use. This option relies upon the closed questions used in the questionnaires and can therefore lack scope for the volunteers to express true feelings and record personal experiences that would reveal insight in to their lives as single parents. Finally interpretivist sociologists would suggest a major problem with the research design which would be the detachment between researcher and respondent. Given this 'emotional distance' it is likely that the volunteers may choose not to reveal certain things which could result in highly invalid data being collected. ...read more.

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