Explain the relationship between family structure and industrialisation

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Explain the relationship between family structure and industrialisation

Industrialisation was the time in Britain (1750s) when production changed from being agriculturally based, over to factory based. Before this the economy in Britain was built on agriculture and farming. The majority of people were peasants who did not own the land they worked on but worked for the local lord or lady. People also lived much shorter lives than they do today, usually dying in their 40s. It was industrialisation that lead to urbanisation as people moved from the countryside to the cities, the first major towns being places like Manchester, Preston and Liverpool, all to the North of England. It was this that lead to people becoming geographically mobile.

Parsons believed that the pre-industrialisation family worked together as a unit of production, meaning they worked and lived together on the land, producing goods. At this time for Parsons the family was a classic extended family as people lived close together in the countryside and needed quite large families to maintain the land. So when industrialisation occurred and people began moving to the city, Parsons saw this as meaning that the families’ structure changed to an isolated nuclear family because people moved away from their extended family and out into the city for factory work. This meant that the family lost functions as specialised institutions were introduced such as the welfare state and education system. Parsons calls this structural differentiation, claiming that this meant that the modern nuclear family only had two functions left; these are primary socialisation, and the stabilising of adult personalities.

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However there were other sociologists that criticised Parsons’ ideas and beliefs about the family and how it was before and after Industrialisation occurred in Britain. A sociologist named Laslett had ideas that completely opposed those of Parsons in that the research he did gave him findings saying that in pre-industrial Britain the family was actually an isolated nuclear family, this was because people had such short lives that they often married and had children late in life meaning that they would never live to be grandparents. Laslett then discovered that it was when urbanisation occurred as a result of industrialisation, ...

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