Identify and explain some of the changes that have taken place in family structure over the last 50 years. (20 marks)
Over the past 50 years, there have been many increases and declines in types of family for several reasons.
One of the biggest changes has been the rapid decline in the number of nuclear families. A nuclear family consists of a heterosexual couple and normally two children. In the 1970’s, the divorce laws changed meaning that a person could divorce their spouse for any reason, rather than only being able to divorce before if there was some type of wrongdoing before. This then allowed unhappy women to be able to leave their husbands for reasons such as physical abuse which was once seen as acceptable.
Functionalists would not agree with the decline of the nuclear family. Functionalists believe that everything in society works as an institution to make society on the whole function harmoniously. They say that family is vital for 4 things in society: the regulation of sexual activity, reproducing and raising children, educating or socialising society’s way of life to the younger members and being an economic unit with clear divisions of labour between genders. With the decline in the nuclear family, they will believe that these four functions will diminish and society will not function in an adequate way.
Where liberal feminists would not be happy about the decline in nuclear families as they believe that increasing equality exists between men and women, radical and Marxist feminists would think that it is a good thing. Radical feminists argue that men benefit much greater than women within the family environment. They say that gender roles which are allocated within a family are accepted by the women, which then goes on to disadvantage them in later life when it comes to things such as employment. Whereas men were socialised as children to be dominant, women are stressed to conform and show domesticity. Marxist feminists argue how women become...