Theories of the Family

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Theories of the Family

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Theories of the Family
  1. Conflict views
    1. Marxists argue that the family provides important functions for capitalism
      1. Feminists argue that the family reinforces gender equalities and the patriarchy
      2. Consensus views
        1. Functionalists theories
          1. The family performs positive functions for individuals and the society
            1. Stable satisfaction of the sex drive
              1. Reproduction of the next generation
                1. Socialisation of the young
                  1. Meeting the economic needs of its members
                    1. Murdock.
                      1. Criticised for having a rose tinted approach that neglects to acknowledge conflict and exploitation
                2. New right theories
                  1. New Right theories: the family is the cornerstone of society; but it is under threat
                3. Family diversity
                  1. Number of nuclear families fallen. Divorce rate increased, fewer first time marriages and more remarriages, same sex marriages legally recognised, more births outside marriages, more lone parent families, more people live alone, more re constituted families,
                    1. Functionalist and marxists sociologists believe that family diversity is not to be encouraged they see the traditional nuclear family between children and gendered division of labour as 'normal' and traditional, They support the division between instrumental male role as breadwinner, and expressive female housekeeper role as normal. They argue that gender differences make them suitable for each role
                      1. Post modernists argue that a family is whatever arrangements its members choose to call a family. Postmodernists and feminists like it because it gives the members the freedom to treat family as whatever they choose
                        1. It frees women from the oppression of a traditional male patriarchal family
                        2. Functionalists argue that the nuclear family uniquely meets the needs of society
                        3. Social policy
                          1. Sociologists argue about the kind of effect social policy has on family life, and whether they are desirable.
                            1. Functionalists believe social policy makes life better for its members, Fletcher says that the welfare state helps the family to produce its functions more effectively
                              1. Functionalists assume that social policy benefits everyone whilst feminists argue that they often only benefit men. Marxists argue it can reverse progress i.e. cutting welfare to poor families.
                              2. New Right sociologists believe that social policy undermines the role of the family by weakening self reliance. Murray argues that the welfare states offer perverse incentives for anti social behaviour
                                1. Feminists argue that these views are an attempt to return to the traditional patriarchal family
                                2. Feminists argue that social policy reinforces patriarchal ideas about the status of men and women, assuming women are financially dependent on men
                              3. Changes within the family
                                1. Gender roles, division of labour, nature of housework,decision making, power relations
                                  1. Willmott and Young say roles are becoming more equal and extended families have been replaced by a privatise nuclear family based on symmetry. Modern marriage has joint conjugal roles meaning that women are working more and men are doing more housework, it also means couples are more likely to share decision making and leisure time
                                    1. Oakley Criticises Willmott and Young for basing their conclusions on one interview where the questions were worded to exaggerate the amount of work done by men
                                      1. Social attitudes survey found more sharing in child rearing than household tasks
                                        1. Ferri and Smith, even when woman is in paid employment she is more likely to be primary person responsible for childcare
                                          1. Sullivan saw an increasing trend towards equal division of labour over a 25 year period, more men were taking part in tasks traditionally deemed as women's tasks
                                            1. Man Yee - Kan, better paid women do less housework
                                              1. Arber and Ginn, greater home equality depends on social class, working class women can't afford childcare so are stuck with housework
                                            2. Domestic Violence
                                              1. Dobash and Dobash argue that patriarchal societies still have cultural support for men disciplining wives or partners. Argue theres little institutional support. Assault can occur as a result of the woman not performing house tasks to his satisfaction
                                                1. Radical feminists fail to acknowledge that not all men are violent, and don't explain female violence
                                                2. Wilkinson suggests that domestic violence is a result of social inequality, lower income, overcrowded houses lead to stress
                                                  1. Doesn't explain why women are at greater risk than men
                                                3. Patterns
                                                  1. Marriage
                                                    1. Decreased since 70's
                                                      1. Decline of religious influence
                                                        1. Declining stigma to alternatives i.e. cohabitation
                                                          1. Fear of divorce
                                                          2. Remarriages increased
                                                            1. Changing attitudes to marriage
                                                            2. People marrying later
                                                              1. Changes in position of women
                                                            3. Divorce
                                                              1. Increase since 60's
                                                                1. Divorce reform act
                                                                  1. Equalised grounds for divorce between sexes
                                                                    1. Widening grounds
                                                                      1. Cheaper, accessible to w/c
                                                                        1. Irretrievable breakdown
                                                                      2. 7/10 petitions for divorce from women
                                                                        1. Feminists see high divorce rate as desirable, shows them breaking free from oppression of a patriarchal family
                                                                      3. Same sex relationships
                                                                        1. estimates 7%
                                                                          1. Social policy beginning equal treatment
                                                                            1. Weeks argues social acceptance has led to a rise
                                                                        2. Childhood
                                                                          1. Sociologists see childhood as socially constructed
                                                                            1. Pikcher argues that an important aspect of childhood is its separateness from adulthood
                                                                              1. Aries argues that in pre industrial societies, children were just little adults
                                                                                1. High infant mortality
                                                                                  1. Children were criminally responsible
                                                                                  2. Recent changes are a result of social policy excluding children from paid work, introduction of education system. child protection and welfare legislation, growth of idea of children's rights
                                                                                    1. Western society childhood has improved a lot
                                                                                      1. Conflict sociologists criticise the march of progress view for ignoring inequalities.
                                                                                        1. Different nationalities experience different childhood
                                                                                          1. 90% of low weigh babies born in 3rd world
                                                                                            1. Postman argues childhood is disappearing, children being given same rights, unsupervised games, similarity in clothing, children committing crimes
                                                                                              1. Palmer, toxic childhood. junk food, computer games, intensivee marketing,. Margo and Dixon, uk at top for teen pregnancy, obesity, self harm, drug and alcohol abuse
                                                                                        2. Demography
                                                                                          1. Fertility rate is average number of children will have during fertile years
                                                                                            1. more women delaying or remaining childless
                                                                                              1. Children economic liablity
                                                                                                1. Lower mortality rate, no need to have more children
                                                                                                2. Death rate number of deaths per 1000 per year, decreased
                                                                                                  1. better healthcare
                                                                                                    1. better nutrition
                                                                                                      1. better environment and public health
                                                                                                    2. Migration
                                                                                                      1. Movement in an area or society, emigration movement out, immigration movement in. net migration is difference between
                                                                                                        1. Immigration has created a more ethnically diverse society
                                                                                                          1. Emigration for economic
                                                                                                            1. Push unemployment,
                                                                                                              1. Pull higher wages
                                                                                                            2. Dependenct
                                                                                                              1. Migrants mainly of working age, lowers ratio
                                                                                                                1. Immigrant tend to have a higher fertility rate, increases ratio
                                                                                                                  1. decreases average age of population, and in due course, provides more workers, lowering ratio
                                                                                                                    1. Evidence suggests that the longer someone is in the country, the closer they come to the national average
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