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Flashcards in Family Diversity Deck (33)
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Outline what is meant by a 'modernist' perspective on the family.

Seeing modern society as having a fairly fixed, clear-cut and predictable structure.


What are Parsons' two irreducible functions of the family?

- The primary socialisation of children.
- The stabilisation of adult personalities.


According to functionalists, which type of family is most appropriate to perform these functions in modern society?

Nuclear family with a clear division of labour between husband and wife.


Describe the family type that the New Right regard as normal.

Traditional nuclear family consisting of a married couple and their dependent children with a clear division of labour between the breadwinner-husband and homemaker-wife.


What reasons do the New Right give for supporting the family type that they regard as normal?

They see the nuclear family as 'natural' and based on fundamental biological differences between men and women.


Give three reasons why the New Right see lone-parent families as harmful to children.

- Lone mothers cannot discipline their children properly.

- Lone-parent families leave boys without an adult male role model, resulting in educational failure, delinquency and social instability.

- Such families are also likely to be poorer and thus a burden on the welfare state and tax payers.


Summarise Benson's findings on cohabitation versus marriage. How does this support the New Right view?

- Analysed data on parents of over 15,000 babies.
- Over first 3 yrs of baby's life, 20% cohabiting couples breakdown vs 6% married couples.
- Argues couples are more stable when married bc it requires deliberate commitment to each others.
- Rate of divorce is lower than breakups amongst cohabiting couples.
- Argues government needs to encourage couples to marry but means of policies that support marriage.


Identify two solutions to family problems proposed by New Right thinkers.

- They argue that only a return to 'traditional values', including the value of marriage, can prevent social disintegration and damage to children.

- They regard laws and policies such as easy access to divorce, gay marriage and widespread availability of welfare benefits as undermining the conventional family.


Briefly summarise four criticisms of the New Right view of the family.

- Oakley: NR wrongly assume that husbands and wives' roles are fixed by biology. Cross-cultural studies show great variation in the roles men and women perform within the family.

- Feminists: Nuclear family based on the patriarchal oppression of women & is a fundamental cause of gender inequality. It prevents women from working, keeps them financially dependent on men and denies equal say in decision-making.

- Critics argue: There's no evidence that children in lone-parent families are more likely to be delinquent that those bought up in a two-parent family of the same social class.

- The rate of cohabitation is higher among poorer social groups. Therefore, as Smart points out, it may be poverty that causes the breakdown of relationships, rather than the decision to not marry.


What does Chester mean by the neo-conventional family?

A dual-earner family in which both spouses go out to work and not just the husband. Similar to Young & Willmott's symmetrical family.


What five patterns does Chester identify to show that there has been little change to the modern family?

- Most people live in a household headed by a married couple.

- Most adults marry and have children. Most children are reared by their two natural parents.

- Most marriages continue until death. Divorce has increased but most divorcees remarry.

- Cohabitation has increased, but for most couples its a temporary phase before marrying or re-marrying. Most couples get married if they have children.

- Although births outside of marriage have increased, most are jointly registered, indicating that the parents are committed to bring the child up as a couple.


Identify and briefly describe the Rapoports' five types of family diversity.

Organisational diversity: Differences in the ways family roles are organised. E.g. some couples have joint conjugal roles & two wage-earners, others have segregated conjugal roles & one wage-earner.

Cultural diversity: Different cultural, religious & ethnic groups have different family structures. E.g. More female-headed lone-parent families among African-Caribbean households & more extended families among Asian households.

Social class diversity: Differences in family structure are partly the result of income differences between households of difference social classes. Also class differences in child-rearing practices.

Life-stage diversity: Family structures differ according to the stage reached in the life cycle. E.g young newlyweds, couples w/ depended children, retired couples whose children have grown up and left home & widows living alone.

Generational diversity: Older & younger generations have different attitudes & experiences that reflect the historical periods they've lived in. E.g differences in opinion of divorce & cohabitation.


According to Stacey, how have women benefited from the greater freedom of postmodern society?

It's enabled them to free themselves from patriarchal oppression and to shape their family arrangements to meet their needs.


What method did Stacey use in her research?

Life history interviews.


What does Stacey mean by the 'divorce-extended family'?

Members are connected by divorce rather than marriage. Key members are usually female & may include former in-laws.


How do 'divorce-extended families' reflect the postmodern view of family life?

Postmodern families are diverse and their shape depends on the active choices people make about how to live their lives.


Summarise the individualisation thesis.

- Traditional social structures (class, gender & family) have lost much of their influence over us.

- Previously, peoples lives were defined by fixed roles which prevented them from changing their own life course. E.g marriage and gender roles. Contrast: now fewer fixed roles to follow.

- We've become 'disembedded' from traditional roles & structures giving us more freedom.

- Beck: 'standard biography' (life course) that people followed previously has been replaced with 'do-it-yourself biography' that individuals must construct themselves.

-Giddens and Beck: this change has huge implications for family relationships from family relationships & diversity.


Explain what is meant by 'life course analysis'.

Developed by Hareven (1978). Using in-depth, unstructured interviews, it explores meaning individuals give to the relationships they have and choices they make at various turning points in their lives. E.g having a baby or coming out.

Holdsworth & Morgan: examine what it means for young people to leave home and become independent & how parents, friends & others influence their decisions.


What are the two major strengths of using life course analysis to investigate families?

- Focuses on what family members themselves view as important, rather than sociologists. Looks at families & households from viewpoint of people involved & meanings they give to their lives, relationships & choices.

- Particularly suitable for studying families in today's postmodern society, where there's more choice about personal relationships and more family diversity.


Give the two reasons for greater choice and equality in families and marriage. What does this mean for couples today?

- Contraception has allowed sex and intimacy rather than reproduction to become the main reason for the relationships existence.

- Women have gained independence as a result of feminism and because of greater opportunities in education and work.


According to Giddens, what holds relationships together today?

Individual choice and equality.


What is the key feature of the 'pure relationship'?

It exists solely to satisfy each partners needs.


Why does Giddens see the pure relationship as a 'rolling contract'?

It can be ended more or less at will by either partner, rather than a permanent commitment producing greater family diversity.


Why does Giddens see same-sex couples as pioneers of new family types?

- Not influenced by tradition to the extent that hetero relationships are.

- Result: they've been able to develop relationships based on choice rather than traditional roles.

- Enabled them to negotiate personal relationships & actively create family structures that serve their own needs, rather than conforming to pre-existing norms.


What does Beck mean by 'risk society'?

Tradition has less influence and people have more choice.
Result: We're more aware of risks. Making choices involves calculating risks and rewards of different options available.


Identify two social trends that have undermined the patriarchal family.

- Greater gender equality: which has challenged male domination in all spheres of life. Women now expect equality both at work and in marriage.

- Greater individualism: where people's actions are influence more by calculations of their own self-interest than by a sense of obligation to others.


What is the 'negotiated family'?

They don't conform to the traditional family norm, but vary according to the wishes and expectations of their members, who decide what is best for themselves by negotiation.


What does Beck mean by the 'zombie family'?

It appears to be alive, but it reality it's dead. People want it to be a haven of security in an insecure world, but today's family cannot provide this because of its own instability.


State three criticisms that the personal life perspective makes of the individualisation thesis.

- Budgeon: Reflects neo-liberal ideology that individuals today have complete freedom of choice. Reality: traditional norms that limit peoples relationship choices haven't weakened as much as the thesis claims.

- It wrongly sees people as disembedded, 'free-floating', independent individuals. Ignores that our decisions & choices about personal relationships are made within a social context.

- Ignores the importance of structural factors e.g social class inequalities and patriarchal gender norms in limiting & shaping our relationship choices.


How does Finch and Mason's study of extended families support the connectedness thesis?

Although individuals can to some extend negotiate the relationships they want, they're also embedded within family connections & obligations that restrict their freedom of choice.