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Flashcards in Family diversity Deck (26)
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Explain modernism and the nuclear family.

Modernity refers to an era of human history characterised by scientific thought, individualism, a focus on industrialisation and technical development, and a rejection of some traditional values.

Modernist perspectives such as functionalism and the new right see the nuclear family as being the best fit for this type of society.


Explain the functionalist perspective on the family.

Functionalists believe that the nuclear family is the best fit for modern society as it is the only formation capable of performing the four essential functions for society of reproduction, economic stability, socialisation and satisfaction of the sex drive.


Who are the New Right?

A political ideology and sociologicl perspective exemplified in Thatcher in the UK and Reagan in the US

Neoliberal economics (free markets and minimal state) combined with traditional social conservaatism.

Belief in individual responsibility: 'there is no such thing as society'.


Explain the New Right perpective on family diversity.

The conservative perspective on the family is firmly opposed to family diversity.

The New Right sees the traditional nuclear family as natural and the cornerstone of society, minimising the requirements fo the state.

They introduced section 28: controversial legislation outlawing the 'promotion' of homosexuality.

They see lone parent families as being problematic as they are a burned on taxpayers, lone mothers cannot discipline children properly and boys will lack an adult male rolemodel.

Lone parent families as regarded as evidence of moral decline in society.

Murray saw lone parent familes as leading to the development of an underclass and argued that welfare policy encouraged this.


Explain the underclass (Murray).

Murray argued that the underclass are not just poor but are defined by their behaviour: they have different norms and values and represent a threat to social order.

They have 3 key features:
- Illegitimacy
- Crime
- Unemployment

These combine to create an underclass who transmit their deviant values and culture to the next generation and their neighbourhoods.


Explain the New Right perspective on cohabitation

The New-Right argue that the breakdown of relationships between cohabiting parents is the main cause of lone parent as they think couples are more stable when they are married.

The New Right argue that the only way to prevent social disintegration is by returning to traditional values including valuing marriage.

The Marriage Tax allowance was introduced by the Conservative government as an attempt to incentivise marriage through reducing the tax amounts married couples need to pay each year however it is likely that such a small amount of money doesn't have a significant impact on whether or not a couple marries.


Evaluate the New Right perspective on family diversity.

(-) It assumes fixed biological roles, making it sexist and outdated.

(-) The New Right fails to recognise that cohabitation can mean different things rather than just people not committing to a stable marriage.

(0( The breakdown of relationships can be attributed to multiple factors, most of which are probably more significant than non-marriage.

(-) There is no evidence that children from lone-aren't families are more likely to be delinquent.

(-) There is poor evidence for the existence of an underclass and this concept can be seen as stigmatising, stereotyping and dehumanising vulnerable members of society.


Explain Chester's take on neo-conventional families.

Chester noted the rise of the 'neo-conventional family'- a dual earner family. Other than this, he sees little evidence of major change; most people still aspire to a nuclear family and will be part of one at some point in their lives (statistics on household composition may be inaccurate as they only provide a snapshot of a person's life).

Chester argues that the extent of family diversity has been exaggerated, with the key difference between the conventional and neo-conventional family being that both spouses now. play an instrumental role.


What does Chester use as evidence for his claim that little has changed in terms of family diversity?

- most people live in a household headed by a married couple
- most people marry and have children
- most marriages continue until death
- cohabitation has increased but may just be temporary


Outline the five types of family diversity.

Rapports argued that diversity is now central to family life. He identified 5 types of family diversity.

Life-stage diversity
Generational diversity
Social class diversity


Explain Rapports Organisational diversity.

This refers to the many different shapes families can take and the different ways in which roles and responsibilities can be organised. Eg. nuclear with segregated conjugal roles, symmetrical, lone parent sharing child care, beanpole, boomerang kids, adoptive...


Explain Rapports cultural diversity.

Cultural diversity refers to how family type and organisation may vary according to cultural background:
- Afro-Caribbean families are more likely to be lone mother households and matrifocal
- Asian families are more likely to be extended
- Hasidic jews tend to marry young and the women are homemakers
- Different cultures regard how marriage is entered and viewed differently (arranged v love, romantic v practical)
- Differences in terms of family size preferences and childrearing views
- Different values and priorities eg Archer and Francis found a particularly strong emphasis on education in British Chinese families
- different views re authority within the family


Explain Rapports social class diversity.

- Potential differences in family structure, eg working class might have more contact with extended kin and socialise their children differently

- There is evidence that university educated men do more domestic labour and child care due to having more egalitarian views

- Middle-class families are more likely to be able to pay for domestic help and have greater access to leisure activities


Explain Rapports social class diversity in regards to parenting.

Lareau conducted an in-depth observation of black and white middle-class, working-class and poor families and found class differences relating to the organisation of daily life such as hobbies and activities, language use and relationships with institutions, schools in particular with middle-class parents being more assertive. She used the term concerted cultivation to describe how middle class families raise their children while working class families would raise children relying on natural growth and minimal parental input. This is likely to have the impact of middle-class children being more well-rounded and well-socialised due to the involvement of their parents.


Explain Rapports life stage diversity.

This refers to how we live in different family formations according to our life stage and biography. For example, someone might be born into a nuclear family and experience several different formations as they go to university, get married and have children.


Explain Rapports generational diversity.

This is also known as cohort diversity and refers to how older and younger generations possess different attitudes and experiences in regards to family diversity that reflect the period they grew up in For example, older people might consider cohabitation or divorce to be morally wrong. The time period at which individuals pass through different stages in the life cycle (their cohort) also has an impact. eg those who graduate and enter the ob market during a recession may have different family trajectories than those who graduate during an economic boom.


Explain the postmodernist view on family diversity.

According to this view, in postmodern society (one characterised by diversity fragmentation and rapid social change), there is no longer one single, dominant, stable family structure such as the nuclear family and rather family structures have fragmented into many different types with individuals having much more choice in terms of how they construct a family and lead their lives within one. This has advantages, such as giving a family the freedom to plot their own life course, and disadvantages such as increasing the risk of instability and relation ships are more likely to break up.


Explain Stacey's argument regarding postmodern families.

Stacey wrote a book, Brave New Families, in which she provided oral histories of 28 women living in California. She argued that the 'modern family" is giving way to a collection of diverse and often fragile domestic arrangements that make up the postmodern family- eg single mothers, blended families, cohabiting couples, gay partners, communes and two-job families.

Stacey identified a new family type- the divorce extended family, in which members are connected by divorce rather than marriage.

She also argued that the trend towards postmodern families is encouraged by long term and short term changes including loss of wider kin control and economic changes.


Explain the individualisation thesis.

Giddens and Beck proposed the individualisation thesis which proposes that we have now become freed from traditional roles and structures, meaning we have the freedom to choose how we live our lives. Beck stated that the standard life course previously followed has been overtaken by the 'do it yourself biography' that individuals must build for themselves.

They saw this as having huge implications for family relationships and diversity.


Explain Giddens' argument regarding choice and diversity.

Giddens argued that in recent decades the family and marriage have been transformed by greater choice and a more equal relationship between men and women due to:
- Conception having made sex and intimacy a central purpose of relationships rather than of reproduction
- Women gaining economic independence


What does Giddens propose about relationships now a days?

Giddens argues that relationships are now characterised by three general characteristics:

1. Couples in families are free to define the relationship themselves rater than simply act out roles that have ben defined in advance by law or tradition.

2. The typical relationship is the 'pure' relationship. It exists solely to meet the partners needs and is likely to continue only if it succeeds- couples stay together because of love, happiness and sexual attraction rather than a sense of duty (confluent love).

3. Relationships have become part of the process of self discovery or self identity.

Giddens notes that relationships are now less stable due to the increase in choice.


Explain Giddens take on same sex couples.

Giddens sees same-sex couples as being pioneers, leading the way towards new family types with more equal relationships. This may be because same-sex relationships are more negotiated and don't rely on gender scripts, enabling them to create family structures that serve their own needs. For example, some gay men choose to have open relationships.


Explain what the negotiated family is.

Beck proposes another version of the individualisation thesis, suggesting that we are now living in 'risk' society which makes us reflexive, risk calculating individuals. Family lives were once stable and predictable with the patriarchal nuclear family but this has now been undermined by:
1. Greater gender equality
2. Greater individualism

Beck argues that this has led to the rise of the negotiated family, one characterised by more equality and freedom by less stability. Love has become an empty category which lovers must fill in relation to their own emotional lives. This leads to family diversity by creating more lone-parent families, single person and reconstituted families.


Explain the personal life perspective on family diversity.

Sociologists who take this perspective recognise that there is greater family diversity but disagree with the individualisation thesis, saying it emphasises choice, fails to recognise social context and ignores the importance of structural factors in shaping our relationship choices.


Explain the connectedness thesis.

The connectedness thesis, proposed by personal life perspective sociologists such as Smart, offers an alternative to the individualisation thesis, recognising that we live within a network of existing relationships and personal histories which influence our opinions and choices within relationships. We are not acting as free agents as we are constrained by family connections and obligations.

Smart notes that 'where lives have become interconnected and embedded, it becomes impossible for relationships to simply end.


Explain the influence of class and gender according to the connectedness thesis.

The connectedness thesis emphasises the importance of class and gender and proposes that structures of class and gender limit our choices about relationships and families. For example, it is possible that only white middle-class men such as Beck and Giddens are able to act free of obligation (individualisation thesis)

Other examples:
- after divorce, children normally stay with the mother
- women may be socially punished for leaving their family
- women can find it difficult to leave abusive men