Assess the sociological views of the relationship between the family and industrialisation

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Assess the sociological views of the relationship between the family and industrialisation

Most sociological debates of family diversity have centred around three questions. Firstly, is the nuclear family universal, Secondly, is the nuclear group the only one that can carry out the vital functions of the family, and thirdly what is the link between the nuclear family structure and industrial society, did the nuclear family break away from this extended family system as a result of industrialization? The relationship between family structure and industrialisation remains a popular question, as it is linking the family with social change.

‘Pre Industrialisation’ refers back to the society before industrialisation, it was largely agricultural and work was centred at the home, people were given ascribed occupational roles this was known as the domestic industry. Family during the time was extended commonly and played a major role in looking after dependent children and had main responsibility for health and welfare of the young, and those of old age who couldn’t work. Before the compulsory education act in 1880, the family performed the acts of primary and secondary socialisation. Working class families had high illiteracy rates. However, during the Industrial revolution the nuclear family became more dominant in society. ‘Industrialism’ refers to the mass production if goods in a factory using mechanisms, it was work that was centred in factories and based in cities which meant there was an increase in individuals from the extended family leaving the home to work for wage and not the basic survival as in the past. During this time the traditional roles of the family had changed, reproduction increased outside of marriage as well as state education and mass media having major roles in socialising children.

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Functionalists argue that different social institutions like the family and economy are closely linked and operate in harmony with each other.  Parsons argues that changes in the functions of the family also involve a change in the structure. He argues that in pre-industrial societies an extended family system made it easier to carry out the wide range of functions required since a larger pool of kin was available. In industrial societies however, the extended family system was no longer needed this was due to structural differentiation, there were now specialised, social institutions like the education system and welfare state which ...

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This essay starts well and has a good description of Parsons' views and some excellent counterarguments. However, the essay ignores other Functionalist theorists, Marxist theory and distinctly lacks any overall conclusions and evaluations.