Discuss the view that the modern family is becoming more diverse

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Catherine Sweeney

“Discuss the view that the modern family is becoming more diverse”

For many years society’s conception of a normal family consisted of a man and women living together, who are married and having sexual relations.  Having produced children together, or having adopted children, this being known as a nuclear family and was claimed as a vital unit in British society.  The father would take on the role as the breadwinner; going out to work and providing for his family and the mother’s role would be to look after the home, childcare and the domestic chores.  

The family has often been observed as the cornerstone of society.  In the past, present and in all society, it has been seen as the basic unit of social organisation that carries out important roles, such as primary socialisation.  The process being that children learn the social norm of their society.  This took place in their younger years making the family an important factor of the child’s personality.  Then there is the personality stabilization which refers to the role that the family play in the process of being able to assist adult family members of emotional support including the sexual assertion, connected to marriage.  It was argued by Talbot Parsons (1949) that there are two primary functions within a family, these being irreducible and basic this being the primary socialisation and stabilisation of the mature personality as an adult.  

Over the last several decades Britain has observed alterations to family kinship and the way it has dramatically changed that would have been unheard of in earlier generations.

From feminists to Marxists, everyone has some form of opinion, criticism and argument about what the role of the family has to play in society and what the family consists of.

In today’s society, there are many different forms of families, as mentioned above, there is the nuclear family that was seen as a positive conform to the requirement of the modern society.  The extended family, reconstituted family, lone parent family and the gay couple family.

The extended family which consists of additional family members extending vertically include grandparents; to include at least three generations and horizontally to include cousins and aunties etc.  These two families would be classed as normal in society but this type of relationship has also been debated.  Studies by Michael Young and Peter Willmott (1957) and Michael Anderson (1971) established that the extended family achieved vital functions in industrial societies.  One issue that arises is the confusion of the family within the household.  Households in Britain basically have the general form of a nuclear family rather than extended families.  From the sixteenth to the nineteenth century the average household accommodated less than five people (Laslett and Wall 1972).  This though didn’t mean that the extended family didn’t exist or were not important.  Rosemary O’Day (1994) indicated that there was plenty of proof that in pre-industrial Britain that broader family connections were just as important to people and were carefully preserved.  They provided vital support to enable families to continue to function in distressing situations which can happen often.  There have been considerable changes through to the twentieth century family, this being the size; the number of children brought up in families to their connection to society.  This being because of the increase in birth control and also due to the decline in fertility within women and the family itself as a unit being much smaller.  It has become increasingly common since the Victorian era that there being a family unit of four; two children and two parents that has become exemplary of working and middle class society.  The reduction in a family unit has had affect to family life and the family structure.  Although kin’s are less likely to live within a closer vicinity to one another there is still frequent contact.  

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The reconstituted family is made up of men and women, who remarry, also know as serial monogamy, where children from the previous marriage are brought into the equation; also known as stepfamilies.  There is happiness and benefits connected to the reconstituted family and the expansion of nuclear families.  But there are also many negative issues that arise.  Such as the fact that another biological parent is living elsewhere who will have a continued influence over the child / children’s upbringing, being a certain power, that there can be negative strains in past relationships thus causing problems and negativity in ...

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