Examine the relationship between Industrialisation and the changes in the family

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Examine the relationship between Industrialisation and the changes in the family


The industrial revolution caused huge changes within Britain during the 1750’s and the 1850’s. There were four main changes due to the industrial revolution and these were; Production moved from agricultural to industrial, Mechanisation (the introduction of machines to replace labour and speed up production), Urbanisation (the movement of population from land and into towns). This led to the development of cities, Population explosion – this is due to the increase in birth rate and decrease in death rate. These things had an impact on the family and led to changes in the structure and the roles of the family. 

Parson believed that every era would have a dominant family structure and it was the “best fit” for the economic conditions, which all fits in with the functionalist march of progress theory about social evolution. He believed that the pre industrial family (extended family) was in control. They maintained health for members, provided welfare for members and pursued justice for any family member who was in the wrong.

He believed that three industrial changes were made to the family and they were that mass education was introduced. This was that nuclear families were formed due to family members moving away to get better opportunities such as education and these were put out due to industrialisation. Another point is that specialised agencies developed. This took over the functions of the family. Home and work became separated and more people started to earn money. The state also took over functions such as health, welfare and education. This gave nuclear families a chance to specialise in child-centered functions such as socialisation. In addition, husbands and wives had different roles. Man was made ‘Instrumental leader’. This meant he was responsible for the economic welfare side of the family, the person who earns money and female was made ‘expressive leader’. This meant she had to deal with the socialisation of children and emotional work.

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The ideology of parsons has also been critisised due to specialised agencies only took over with family functions in the very late industrial period (post 1900). The welfare state was introduced in the 1940’s and William Beverage wrote plans for it. Another criticism is that Parsons is that he ignored that women were involved with the workforce. Also, the extended family would inform other people in the family about jobs this caused people to move into towns.

Using data from an 1851 census in Preston, Michael Anderson said that 23% of households were extended. Industrialisation encouraged the extended family, ...

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