Assess the Reasons Given by Sociologists for the Increasing Diversity of Families and Households in the 21st Century

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Assess the reasons given by sociologists for the increasing diversity of families and households in the 21st century Sociologists have identified the many changes in society that have affected the structure of the family. This includes smaller families, more childless couples, single person households and empty nest families. One very clear change in British family life is the decrease in the average number of children people have. The average number of children per family was 2.4 in 1971, compared to 1.6 in 2001. Women are having children later. The average of women at the birth of their first child was 24 in 1971, compared to 27 in 2001. More people are not having children at all- 9% of women born in 1945 were childless at age 45, compared to 15%of women born in 1955. Also, new technologies have created new family structures. Macionis and Plummer (1997) highlighted the ability of new fertility treatments to allow family structures that were previously available, such as IVF. New Right theorists believe that family diversity is the result of a decline in traditional values. They see it as a threat to the traditional nuclear family and blame it for antisocial behaviour and crime. Murray (1989) suggests that single mother families are a principle cause of crime and social decay, because of their lack of a male role model and authority figure in the home. The New Right believe that state benefits should be cut and social policy targeted to discourage family diversity and promote marriage and the nuclear family. Robert Chester (1985) recognises that there has been some increased family diversity in recent years. However, unlike the New Right he does not regard this as very significant, nor does he see it in a negative light. He argues that the only important change is a more from the dominance of the traditional or conventional nuclear family, to what he
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