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The Nuclear family

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Introduction

Contemporary society recognises the family as a 'Nuclear Family' with the father financially supporting the family and the mother (have to be married) looking after their children and their home. The Nuclear family is defined as "consists of two adults living together in a household with their own or adopted children." (Sociology, 391, 1993). However; due to changes over time including the invention of the pill, allowing both men and women to file for divorce without having to prove adultery and even religion not playing such an important part in peoples lives meant that changes in the family structure became more acceptable and the family has now evolved into a more complex and diverse institution. Prior to the war, it was the norm to be a part of a nuclear family. This family was a stable unit, as divorce was expensive and very much frowned upon. Divorces in 1947 were ten times the pre-war figure due to the legal Aid and Advice Act in 1949; this figure decreased again around 1969/1971 with the introduction of the divorce reform act. Reconstituted and lone parent families are becoming more common, gay and lesbian families are becoming more acceptable in today's society and in Asian areas around Britain, extended families are also growing. ...read more.

Middle

and "underestimating the extent of cruelty, violence, incest and neglect" (Sociology Themes and Perspectives, 472, 2004) within families. Somerville also argues "during the early stages of capitalism most working class women had to take paid work for the family to survive financially and relatively few stayed at home as a full-time house wife" (Sociology Themes and Perspectives, 472, 2004). The nuclear family is also supported by the new right theorists who believe it is the ideal type of family, and is essential for the stability of society. They believe that to provide social order you would need two heterosexual white middle class parents. They argue that diverse families are unsatisfactory as adequate norms, morals, and socialisation are not provided. A major criticism with the new right theories is that there is little empirical evidence/research to support them. In contrast to the positivists approach is that of the interpretivists who adopt an idealistic approach. Leading work of interpretivism is that of Interactionists; a leading interactionist is George Herbert Mead who adopts a theoretical approach "places strong emphasis on the role of symbols and language as core elements of all human interaction" (Sociology,764, 1993). Interactionists do not study the family as a unit, but focus more on individuals, and how they interact in society. They do not question family diversity as they accept families differ so much due to external factors. ...read more.

Conclusion

lesbians and homosexuals see their chosen families as their close friends and households they live in. Donovan and Heaphy argue "During the past generation the possibilities of living an openly lesbian and gay family life have been transformed" (Sociology Themes and Perspectives, 496, 2004). A local newspaper recently published an article "He's gay, I'm not!" which appears to contradict the socially accepted view of the family, the article describes a couple who plan to marry and raise children like a traditional family, even though the female is heterosexual and the male is homosexual! Although on the surface this appears to contradict the definition of the traditional family; when examined closer it appears that the basic functions of the nuclear family are still achievable. Modern technology can be seen as a cause for this diversity due to the introduction of artificial insemination and surrogate motherhood, which is what this couple plan to do to raise children. So in conclusion, although the nuclear family is still around and popular in modern Britain it has been slightly adapted to changes both in society and in the house. People now have far more freedom to form the sort of family they prefer difference. As Britain is such a multi-cultural society with different races, religions and sexualities there are many more diverse families and with society how it is today there is much wider tolerance of diverse structures The families today are mainly typified by diversity. Mark Cole 1 Mark Cole 29/04/2007 1 ...read more.

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