Types of family & nuclear families

The aim of this piece of coursework is to look at different sources to investigate the hypothesis above. This will show me whether despite the variation of attitudes in society today there is still a dominant view of the family and also different types of family in a household structure. There is no single right or wrong definition for the family, which applies to all societies as families can come in all different shapes and sizes. The stereotypical view of husband and wife with two children no longer exists. An argument put forward by many sociologists is the family as a unit has lost many of its functions.

For example in pre-industrial society parents’ are responsible for the health, welfare and education of their children. But now the state in the form of specialised organisations such as hospitals, schools and social security have adopted these roles. But I think it is difficult to say that the family has lost many of its functions when there is no clear definition for what a family is. In views of a British sociologist Ronald Fletcher “Parents are expected to do their best to guide, encourage and support their children in their educational and occupational choices and careers.

” Quote taken from Sociology textbook. Families vary enormously in structure and size from society to society, as do the roles played by different members. For instance, the nuclear family usually consists of two adults and their children that can be biological or adopted. The extended family may include three or four generations, as well as uncles, aunts, and cousins. In India, for example, households often include parents, all their children and all their children’s spouses and children, and sometimes the parents’ own brothers and sisters!

However in recent years in western societies there has been an increase in the number of one-parent families, which may consist of an unmarried mother and her child or children, or else of a father or mother, left without a partner through death or divorce, and his or her children. The reconstituted family is becoming increasingly popular as the number of divorces and remarriages increases, so do the numbers of families, which are headed by stepmothers or stepfathers. The children of the family may be a combination of two or more previous marriages.

Extra resources –  Family Health Assessment

There are many perceptions towards the family; some people are for the family and some against. The beneficial view of the family is that they can help each other, work for each other and influence the course of each other’s lives. Families can also provide the vital link between an individual and society. However there is a critical view of the family to balance with the benefits. Critics have pointed out the various harmful aspects of family life. They point out that violence against children and wives is commonplace and each year in Britain some children are actually beaten to death by their parents.

There have been attempts to abolish the family; probably the most famous is the kibbutz of Israel. The Israeli kibbutz or agricultural collective is an attempt to break away from the stereotypes of the family: members of the kibbutz live communally and bring their children up collectively, but even here, parent-child relationships are encouraged. The advantages of living in the kibbutz is that everyone is equal as jobs and procedures are shared between all the members, not one single person would keep to the same job. It is a large support network.

But the disadvantages are that you would not have the chance to become individual in your own family as people are shaped to that of the whole kibbutz collective. As marriage is seen to be unimportant this could lead to a decline in the number of children born, also if children are born they are not the responsibility of the parents but of the whole group. They could feel disowned and not feel part of close support network that you would get n the family, you would live with the same people everyday for the rest of your life.

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