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As family changes
As family changes
As family changes
As family changes
As family changes
As family changes
As family changes
As family changes
As family changes
As family changes
As family changes
As family changes
As family changes
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As family changes

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  • 1. 71Families and householdsin our society. Medical services are stillfree, but the elderly are oftenconsidered a low priority in terms ofhealth provision. You may have towait months or years for non-essentialsurgery.• Services such as home helps, districtnurse/health visitor, day centre care,social workers and meals-on-wheels arealso provided for those aged 65 andover.• If you reach a stage where you areunable to adequately care for yourself,you will be faced with the choice ofentering a private nursing home(which will be expensive and largelyunsubsidised – which may affect anyinheritance for your children) or, morelikely, you will be forced to rely onyour children for care andaccommodation (‘care in thecommunity’). If you have no childrenor no means of support you will receivesome form of state care.In this section we have looked at a range ofsocial policies affecting family life andexperiences in our society which, as Iindicated earlier, involves a sense ofhistorical development and continuity.Continuing this general theme, therefore,we can turn next to an examination ofchanges to family and household structuresand their relationship to processes ofindustrialisation and urbanisation.Family andhouseholdchangesIntroductionAs I have just noted, the focus of thissection is an examination of changes infamily and household structure and theirrelationship to industrialisation andurbanisation. To understand the nature andextent of such changes we need to do twomain things: firstly, we have to outline whatwe mean by:• family and household structure• industrialisation• urbanisation.Secondly, we need to examine how familyand household structures have changedhistorically in our society and how suchchanges can be related to processes ofindustrialisation and urbanisation.WARM UP: FAMILY GENOGRAMSA genogram originally developed byMcGoldrick and Gerson (Genograms inFamily Assessment, 1985) is a way ofdescribing family relationships and theirstructure. It is similar to a family tree, but alittle more sophisticated in terms of theinformation it contains.Draw a genogram for your family (using theexamples of McGoldrick and Gerson’snotation over leaf).Start by identifying your immediate familyand work outwards from there . . .Males are indicated by squares, females by
  • 2. 72AS Sociology for AQAPreparing thegroundFamily/household structure is based on theidea we can identify differences in the waypeople relate to each other; in other words(going back to the work we did on theconcept of structure in Chapter 1) familyand household structures are differentiated (ordifferent) from each other on the basis ofthe different lifestyles, values and normssurrounding people’s relationships. Thefollowing examples of different family andhousehold structures make this a little moreunderstandable:• Nuclear families consist of twogenerations of family members (parentsand children) living in the samehousehold. Contacts with wider kin(aunts and cousins, for example) areusually infrequent and more likely toinvolve ‘impersonal contacts’ such asthe telephone or email. For this reason,this family structure is sometimes calledan isolated nuclear (reflecting itsisolation from wider kin and it’s‘economic isolation’ from the rest ofsociety) or conjugal family – a self-contained unit where family membersare expected to support each othersocially, economically andpsychologically.• Extended families, as the name suggests,involve additional family members. Thisstructure comes in three basic flavours:• Vertically extended consists of threeor more generations (grandparents,parents and children) living in thesame household (or very close to eachother). Matrifocal families are acircles. Marriage/cohabitation is shown byan unbroken line.The person drawing the genogram isindicated by a double box. Put the birth dateof each family member at the top left.Links between living family members can beindicated as a broken line. Indicate therelationship (uncle, for example) beneaththe line.Marriage dates are recorded above the linkline.A separation is recorded by a slash (withdate) along the line.Divorce is recorded as above, except twolines are used.Remarriage (or ex-marriage) is indicated toone side with a smaller shape.4579m. 90m. 90, s. 948144m. 90, s. 94 d. 96m. 1990, d. 96 m. 99
  • 3. Remarriage(Either partner)ParentsChildStep brother/Step sisterStep Parents73Families and householdsvariation on this type of familystructure in that they involve (or arefocused on) women (a femalegrandparent, female parent andchildren). Conversely, patrifocalfamilies (quite rare in our society) arefocused on men.• Horizontally extended involvesrelations such as aunts, uncles, cousins,etc. (relations of the same generation asthe parents). These ‘extensions’ to thebasic family group branch out withingenerations – a wife’s sister and herpartner, for example, living with thefamily group. Polygamous families(where one man lives with many womenor vice versa) sometimes take this form –the parents may, for example, be drawnfrom the same generation.• Modified-extended refers, according toMichael Gordon (The Nuclear Family inCrisis: The Search for an Alternative,1972) to the idea that wider familymembers keep in regular touch with eachother. This may be both physically (inthe sense of visiting or exchanging helpand services) and emotionally (contactsby telephone, email and the like).Related to this idea is a distinction drawnby Peter Wilmott (‘Urban Kinship Pastand Present’, 1988) when he talks aboutlocal extended families, involving ‘twoor three nuclear families in separatehouseholds’ living close together andproviding mutual help and assistance;dispersed extended families, involvingless frequent personal contacts; andattenuated extended families involving,for example, ‘young couples before theyhave children’, gradually separating fromtheir original families.• Single-parent families involve a singleadult plus their dependent children.Although this is more likely to be afemale parent, a significant proportioninvolve a male parent. This type of familyis sometimes called a broken nuclear family,because it often – but not always – arisesfrom the break-up of a two-parent family.• Reconstituted (or ‘step’) families (usuallynuclear in form) result from the break-upof one family (through things like death ordivorce) and its reconstitution as a uniquefamily by remarriage or cohabitation. Itmay, therefore, involve children from aprevious family as well as the new family.A reconstituted (step) family• Homosexual families: Usually nuclear inform, this type of family involves adults ofthe same sex plus children (own oradopted). Homosexual couples cannotcurrently legally marry in the UK (aLabour Government Bill to recognise‘Civil Partnerships’ – giving each partnerlegal rights similar to marriedheterosexual couples – was rejected bythe House of Lords in June 2004). Gaycouples can, however, legally cohabit.
  • 4. 74AS Sociology for AQAHousehold structures in our society,involve the following:• Single households consist (as you mighthave guessed) of an adult living alone.Traditionally, death and relationshipbreakdown have been the main reasonsfor this type of household, although thereis increasing evidence people arechoosing to live this way (in 2003, forexample, 13% of all households consistedof a single person).• Couple households consist of two peopleliving without children. In 2003, 25% ofall households were of this type, makingit the second most common householdtype after couples with dependentchildren (38% of all households).• Shared households are not particularlycommon and involve, for whateverreason, a group of people living together.This may be a temporary arrangement(such as students sharing a flat) or apermanent arrangement wherebyfamilies/individuals live together as acommune.We can complete the first part of thissection by briefly outlining what we meanby the concepts of:• Industrialisation – a process wherebymachines are extensively applied to theproduction of goods in society(mechanisation). One result of this processis the development of factories and theability to mass produce consumer goods(clothes, cars, mobile phones). Related tothis process is the concept of:• Urbanisation, which involves the idea ofpopulation movement away from rural(village) living to larger communitiesbased in towns and cities. This issometimes called social migration fromthe countryside (rural areas) to towns –urban areas which developed asindustrialisation and factory productiondeveloped.Digging deeperHaving familiarised ourselves with somebasic concepts about family and householdstructures, industrialisation and urbanisation,we need to explore the relationship betweenthese ideas. To do this, we need to framedebates about possible changes in thisrelationship within a sociological context,one that involves thinking about therelationship between social change and socialbehaviour in a historical context – and toexplore possible historical changes withinboth society and family structures, we needTony Barlow and Barrie Drewitt, who havelived together since 1988, paid anAmerican surrogate mother to carry twinsartificially conceived using one of thepartner’s sperm.
  • 5. 75Families and householdsto do two things: firstly, establish aframework for our analysis of social changeand secondly examine historical changes insociety and how they link to economicchanges over time. Since we want to look atthe effects of industrialisation, we canorganise the framework in terms of thecharacteristics of three ‘historical types’ ofsociety, namely:• pre-industrial (or pre-modern)• industrial (or modern) and• post-industrial (or postmodern).The table below identifies a range ofsignificant social and economic features ofeach of these basic types. When referring tothis table, keep the following in mind:• Types of society: These are not ‘hard-and-fast’ categories – pre-modernsociety didn’t end abruptly, to bereplaced by modern society. The tablesimply helps you identify some possibledifferences between different types ofsociety.• Post-modernity: There are argumentswithin sociology about whether we nowlive in a postmodern/post-industrialsociety. I have included it as a type heremainly because it’s easy to make themistake of thinking ‘industrialisation’ issomething that happened a long timeago. Whatever we want to call presentday society (postmodern or late modern,for example) the important thing is torelate family and household change toboth an understanding of the past and thepresent.• Mass production refers to the idea thatmachines were used to produce goods to astandard design, cheaply enough to makethem available to large numbers ofpeople.• Service production refers to the idea thatproviding services to people (eitherphysically – as in McDonald’s – orthrough things like banking, insuranceand knowledge-based systems) is thedominant form of economic activity inpostmodern society.• Feudal refers to a political systeminvolving a major social distinctionbetween the Nobility (largePre-modern Modern Post-modernTime Pre-18th century 18th-late 20thcenturyLate-20th century topresentFeatures ofeconomicproductionPre-industrialAgricultureToolsIndustrialMass productionMechanisationPost-industrialService productionAutomationScale Local National GlobalPoliticalsystemFeudal Capitalist Late capitalistTable 2.2 Selected characteristics of types of society in Britain
  • 6. 76AS Sociology for AQAlandowners) and the Peasantry (largelylandless). Family andhouseholdchangesPreparing thegroundIn terms of the question just posed, there aretwo basic positions we need to examine.The first argument suggests industrialisationand urbanisation were important factors inthe promotion of family and householdchange. These processes, as they developedover a couple of hundred years between thelate seventeenth and late nineteenthcenturies, radically changed the nature ofwork and economic production as Britaingradually moved from an agrarian(agricultural) to an industrial (factory-based)society. This change in the nature andorganisation of work – from the land-based,rural, agricultural, family-centred,organisation of pre-industrial society to thecapital-intensive, urban, industrial, factory-centred, organisation of industrial society –produced, from this viewpoint, radicalfamily and household changes. The basicargument here is that family structureschanged from the predominantly extended-family organisation of pre-industrial societyto the predominantly nuclear familyorganisation of industrial society. The mainreason for this was that industrialisation sawthe development of factories and, in turn,the rapid growth of large urban centres(towns and cities) to support and supplylabour for factory-based production.To accommodate such changes, the oldextended families of pre-industrial societyFeudal systemChurchKingNoblesTaxesMilitaryKnight KnightPeasantsPeasantsSerfs/SlavesLandProtection• Capitalist refers to a political systembased on a class distinction betweenowners (employers) and workers(employees).In the table I have suggested significanthistorical changes in our society based onthe idea of economic changes to the waygoods are made and services provided. Thereis, in this respect, little doubt Britain todayis a very different place to Britain 500 yearsago and it would not be difficult to establishchanges in, for example, personalrelationships (family or otherwise) betweenthese two periods. However, the crucialquestion we need to explore next is theextent to which the social changes createdby industrialisation and urbanisationproduced changes in family and householdstructures.
  • 7. 77Families and households(ideally suited to the demands of a family-based, subsistence form of farming) werebroken down into nuclear families that fittedthe economic requirements of:• geographic mobility – the need forfamilies to move to towns andfactories• labour flexibility – the need to move towhere jobs were located.Industrialisation, therefore, was seen as themotor for family change – people wereforced to change the way they lived toaccommodate new forms of economicproduction.If we trace this idea into the latetwentieth/early twenty-first century, asimilar pattern emerges, but this time theemphasis is on family fragmentation anddiversity. The nuclear family structurescreated by industrialisation and urbanisationare disrupted by the needs of globaleconomic systems and work processes,processes of de-industrialisation (a decline inthe economic importance of manufacturing)and of de-urbanisation (a move away fromtowns and cities to the countryside).The second, alternative, argument alsoinvolves thinking, initially, aboutindustrialisation and urbanisation. Theargument here is that these occurred inBritain (the first country to industrialise)because pre-industrial family structureswere mainly nuclear and thus ideallypositioned to take advantage of neweconomic opportunities requiring familymobility and flexibility; in other words,pre-industrial family structures – with fewunbreakable physical or emotional tieswith extended kin – are seen as the motorfor subsequent industrial development.In addition, the relatively large number ofextended households in pre-industrial times(which included, for example, servants whohad few, if any, emotional or economic tieswith their employers) also representedflexible structures that could adapt relativelyeasily to the changed economic world. Thisidea of flexibility translates relatively easilyto post-modern society, which, so thisargument goes, requires highly flexiblefamily and household structures if neweconomic opportunities are to be graspedand exploited. Our society, it is suggested,has already evolved fragmentary family andhousehold structures (throughindustrialisation and changes to legalrelationships – the easy availability ofdivorce, the growth of single-parent familiesand single-person households etc.) that arewell-suited to taking on board globalisedforms of work (living and working indifferent countries, working at home usingcomputer technology and so forth).Having identified two opposing sides tothe debate, therefore, we need to examinethe historical evidence to help us decidewhich, if any, of these two arguments bestdescribes the relationship between changesin family and household structures,industrialisation and urbanisation.Digging deeperEvidence for the first argument (generallyknown as the ‘Fit Thesis’ because it proposeda close fit between changes in familystructures, industrialisation andurbanisation) has been put forward byFunctionalist writers such as Parsons (‘TheSocial Structure of the Family’, 1959) andGoode (World Revolution and Family Patterns,1963) as well as, in a slightly different way,
  • 8. 78AS Sociology for AQArequired as many people as possible towork the land.• Geographic mobility: The ability to moveaway from the family group was severelylimited by poor communications (norailways or cars, basic road systems and soforth). This meant, in effect, familymembers – even if they had wanted to –were physically unable to move far fromthe family home.• Society: In pre-industrial society therewas no well-developed welfare system(few hospitals existed, for example)which meant family members relied ontheir own resources when it came tolooking after and caring for the sick, theelderly and so forth.The development of industrial societyproduced, according to this view, a structuralfamily change – nuclear families becamedominant because of the demands of factoryforms of production and the opportunitiesthis system created.• Geographic mobility: People had to bemobile to find and keep work in the newindustrial processes. There was a huge – ifgradual – movement away from ruralareas to the developing towns and, insuch a situation, the extended family ofpre-industrial society gradually brokedown.• Social mobility: New opportunities arosefor social mobility and economicadvancement as different types of workdeveloped – people were no longer simplysubsistence farmers. However, to seizethese new opportunities, families had tobe ready and willing to move to thoseareas where the chances of economicadvancement were greatest.the social action theorist Max Weber (TheProtestant Ethic and Spirit of Capitalism,1904).In basic terms, extended family structureswere seen as the norm for pre-industrialsociety because they were:• Multi-functional: A wide family networkperformed a range of different functionsrelated to the economic and social well-being of family members.• Kinship-based: Members of the extendedfamily group shared not only ahousehold, but a common economicposition that involved working togetheras a social group (mainly as subsistencefarmers but also in various craft trades –brewing and baking, for example – withinthe home).• Economically productive: People livedand worked within a family group thatprovided the only viable means for theirphysical survival.This situation arose, according to thisargument, for three main reasons.• Agriculture: Labour-intensive farm work
  • 9. 79Families and households• Nepotism (favouring your relations overothers) was no longer a significant socialasset (as it was in extended families),since the new industries demanded thedemonstration of skills and knowledgerather than family connections.If we extend this argument to post-industrialsociety we can identify significant changes toboth family and household structures.• Family structures: One feature of post-industrial society is the increasing diversityand fragmentation of family life –notwithstanding Chester’s observation(The Rise of the Neo-conventional Family,1985) that the majority of people inBritain still live at least part of their lifewithin some form of nuclear familystructure. Just as, in the industrial period,family structures changed toaccommodate new forms of economicorganisation, so too, in the post-industrialperiod, further changes have occurred.New forms of working (especially throughcomputer technology and networking)open up opportunities for homeworkingwhich, in turn, means single-parentfamilies are, potentially, no longerexcluded from the workforce. Therelatively small size of nuclear familiesand improved communications (such asthe ability to stay in close contact withextended family members relatively easy)makes this family group increasinglymobile – both in terms of national andinternational movement.• Households: One of the features of post-industrial society is the increase in thenumber of single-person households,indicative, according to this argument, ofthe way economic changes have impactedon people’s behaviour. The single-personhousehold is, of course, potentially themost geographically mobile of allfamily/household structures and reflectsthe changing (increasingly global) natureof work.Having outlined the evidence for the firstargument, we can turn to an alternativeinterpretation of the relationship betweenfamily and household structures andindustrialisation.Pre-industrial societyCarlin (‘Family, Society and PopularCulture in Western Europe c. 1500–1700’,2002) argues, ‘most households in earlymodern Western Europe were nuclear familyhouseholds, i.e. all the blood relations theycontained were one couple and theirchildren’. Although extended familiesexisted, the main reasons for this type offamily not being more common seem to be:• Life expectancy: Average life expectancywas low (around 35–40 years) and,consequently, parents didn’t always livelong enough to become grandparents.Although this may have been a reason formany families remaining nuclear, weshould note calculations of average lifeexpectancies in pre-modern societies maybe biased by high rates of infant and childmortality (large numbers of childrendying drags the average down).• Choice: Carlin (2002) notes that someparts of Western Europe, with similarbirth and death rates to Britain, containedmore vertically extended (sometimescalled stem) families. This suggests, at leastin part, people in Britain were choosingnot to live in extended family structures.
  • 10. 80AS Sociology for AQA• Retirement: Demographic evidence(information about how people live) fromareas where people did survive into oldage suggests they were expected to retireinto households separated from theirchildren.• Extended households: Peter Laslett (TheWorld We Have Lost, 1965 and Householdand Family in Past Time, 1972) notes thatupper-class households frequentlyincluded both wider kin and servants(mainly because there was sufficient roomfor them to live within the household).Lower-class households, althoughfrequently nuclear because of highmortality rates among the elderly,probably contained ‘lodgers’ (who arelikely to have been kin) stayingtemporarily within the family group.Laslett, however, estimates only 10% ofpre-industrial households contained morethan two generations of kin.• Modified extended structures: MichaelGordon (1972) suggests arguments thatthe extended family was dominant in pre-industrial society confuse temporaryextensions to a family (such as a relativeliving within a nuclear family for a shortperiod) with the idea of a permanentextended family structure which, he argues,‘is seldom actually encountered in anysociety, pre-industrial or industrial’.According to this argument, therefore, themainly nuclear pre-industrial family wasactually necessary for industrialisation.IndustrialisationHarris (‘The Family and Industrial Society’,1983) argues nuclear family structuresdominated pre-industrial society becauseindustrialisation required:• An inheritance system thatconcentrated wealth, making capital(investment money) available torelatively small numbers of people. Aclose-knit, nuclear structure allied to asystem of primogeniture (inheritance, bythe first-born son, of a family’s totalwealth) made this possible. In addition,it forced those who didn’t inherit tomove away from the family home.Wegge’s (really quite fascinating)research into peasant populationmovements in Germany (‘To Part or Notto Part’, 1999) supports this idea whenshe notes, ‘it is the primogenitureinstitution which better promotesemigration’.• Population growth: According to theOffice for National Statistics, thepopulation of England and Wales trebledbetween 1700 (6 million) and 1851 (18million), indicating the existence of alarge, landless, potential workforce. Thisis significant because it suggestsgeographic mobility wasn’t arequirement for the development ofindustrialisation since what we see hereis a population explosion in urban areas,rather than migration from thecountryside to towns.• Migration: If ideas about populationgrowth are valid, it suggests urbanisationdidn’t result from the break-up andmigration of extended rural families;rather, it occurred as the result of thepopulation growing rapidly during theearly industrial period.Rosemary O’Day (Women in Early ModernBritain, 2000), for example, notes that alarge rural class of agricultural labourersexisted in the seventeenth century. They
  • 11. 81Families and householdsowned no land and lived by selling theirlabour outside the family group.In terms of this argument, therefore, MichaelAnderson (Approaches to the History of theWestern Family, 1995) points out there were‘many continuities’ of family structure duringthe change from agricultural to industrialforms of production, during which no singlefamily or household structure was whollydominant. Thus, although we have focusedon extended/nuclear family and householdstructures, this doesn’t mean other types(with the possible exception of gay families)were not in evidence. Both reconstituted andsingle-parent family structures, for example,existed in pre-industrial societies, mainlybecause of high adult death rates, especiallyamong the lower classes.However, the historical evidence doessuggest that, at least during some part of theindustrialisation/urbanisation process,changes to family and household structuresdid occur, especially in relation to socialclass and the increasing diversity of familyand household structures. Anderson (1995),for example, notes the working classes,during the process of industrialisation,developed a broadly extended familystructure which resulted from:• Urbanisation: As towns rapidlydeveloped around factories, pressure onliving space (and the relativeunderdevelopment of communications)resulted in extended family livingarrangements.• Mutual aid: The lack of state welfareprovision meant working class familiesrelied on a strong kinship network fortheir survival. During periods of sicknessand unemployment, for example, familymembers could provide for each other.• Employment: Where the vast majoritycould barely read or write, an ‘unofficial’kinship network played a vital part insecuring employment for family membersthrough the process of ‘speaking out’(suggesting to an employer) for relativeswhen employers needed to recruit moreworkers.• Child care: Where both parents worked,for example, relatives played a vital partin child care. In addition, high deathrates meant the children of dead relativescould be brought into the familystructure. In an age of what we wouldnow call child labour, young relativescould be used to supplement familyincome.Middle-class family structures tended to benuclear, mainly because of:• Education: The increasing importance ofeducation (for male children) and its costmeant middle class families wererelatively smaller than their working classcounterparts.• Geographic mobility among the classfrom which the managers of the newindustrial enterprises were recruitedweakened extended family ties.Upper-class family structures, according toRoger Gomm (The Uses of Kinship, 1989)have historically been a mixture of nuclearand extended types, although extendedfamily networks, even up to the present day,are used to maintain property relations andfor mutual economic aid amongst kin.In addition, wealth meant extended kin(such as elderly grandparents) could berelatively easily accommodated within thefamily home and the evidence suggests itwas – and still is to some degree – relatively
  • 12. 82AS Sociology for AQAcommon for the vertically-extended familyto exist among the upper classes.Post-industrial societyFamily and households structures in the latetwentieth/early twenty-first centuries are,arguably, more complex, fragmented anddiverse than at any time in our history, ideaswe can briefly examine in the followingterms.• Diversity: As we have seen earlier, oursociety is characterised by a wide range ofdifferent family and household structures(nuclear, reconstituted, single-parent, gayand extended) apparently co-existing. Itis, however, difficult to disentangle thisdiverse range of family structures, for tworeasons.• Nuclear family structures seem to bethe dominant family form, althoughthey clearly involve a range ofdifferent family relationships; a single-parent family contains a different set ofrelationships to those in areconstituted family, for example. Thequestion here, therefore, is the extentto which either or both these familystructures can be characterised asnuclear families.• Definitions of nuclear and extendedfamily structures determine, to somedegree, your view of their relationship.For example, Willmott’s (1988)concept of a dispersed extended familyappears to plausibly characterise manytypes of family relationship in oursociety – what we have here, therefore,is a basic nuclear family structuresurrounded and supported by extendedfamily networks (and whether or notyou count this structure as nuclear orextended depends, as I have suggested,on how you define such things).• Social changes: Relatively easy access todivorce (resulting from legal changes overthe past 50 years) has led to greaternumbers of reconstituted/single-parentfamilies and single-person households.• Social attitudes: Whatever the origins ofsuch changes, it is clear lifestyle factors,in terms of greater social acceptance ofsingle-parent and homosexual familystructures, has played some part increating family structural diversity. TheOffice for National Statistics (2000), forexample, recorded 26% of all familieswith dependent children as containing asingle adult parent.• Life expectancy: Increased lifeexpectancy, a more active lifestyle andchanges to the welfare system (which inrecent years has encouraged the de-institutionalisation of the elderly) hascreated changes within family structures,giving rise to the concept of a newgrandparenting (grandparents play agreater role in the care of grandchildren,for example, than in the recent past).These trends have led to what JuliaBrannen (‘The age of beanpole families’,2003) calls the beanpole family structure –a form of inter-generational (differentgenerations of family members),vertically-extended family structure withvery weak intra-generational (people ofthe same generation – brothers andsisters, for example) links.Similarly, Bengston (‘Beyond the nuclearfamily’, 2001) speculates about the extentto which the phenomenon of increasingbonds between different generations offamily members (as represented, for
  • 13. Growing it yourselfHaving looked at the two arguments aboutthe relationship between family andhousehold structures, industrialisation andurbanisation:1. Create a list (based on the followingtable) of what you think are the threemost important strengths andweaknesses of each argument.2. Based on the strengths and weaknessesyou’ve identified, write a brief (500–600words) comparison of the two arguments.83Families and households2003, for example, this household typewas the single most common family orhousehold structure in our society –according to the Office for NationalStatistics (Social Trends 34, 2004), 29%of families and households in the UK nowinvolve a single person, marginallyoutstripping ‘couples with no children’(28% of all family and householdstructures).In turn, on current projections(‘Complicated Lives II – the Price ofComplexity’, Abbey, 2002), the ‘Couplewith no children’ household will soon bemore common in our society than the‘Couple with children’ family – at present,according to the Office for NationalStatistics (Social Trends 34, 2004), eachof these types constitutes 28% of allfamily and household structures.example, by the new grandparenting)represents ‘a valuable new resource forfamilies in the 21st century’.• Ambivalence: Luscher, (‘Ambivalence:A key concept for the study ofintergenerational relations’, 2000) on theother hand, suggests that people arebecoming increasingly uncertain(ambivalent) about family structures andrelationships in the light of familychanges. Increases in divorce, forexample, have led to the widespreadcreation of single-parent andreconstituted families. These may haveresulted in a weakening of familyrelationships as family members seek tocreate new social spaces for themselvesand their (new) families away from therelationships that previously existed intheir lives. One result of these changes,perhaps, is families seeking ‘to putgeographical distance between differentfamily generations’.Argument 1 Argument 2Strengths Weaknesses Strengths Weaknesses1.2.3.• Households: Finally, one of the moststriking features of our society is thegrowth of lone person households. In

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