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AS Sociology: Issues of Family Diversity


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AS Sociology: Issues of Family Diversity

  1. 1. Family Diversity<br />Has family life become more diverse in modern Britain?<br />
  2. 2. Starter: (5 minutes)<br />Thinking about your own family structure, how is your family similar or different to that of your friends? Explain.<br />
  3. 3. Overview: Family/household structures are based on the idea we can identify differences in the way people relate to each other; in other words family and household structures are differentiated (or different) from each other on the basis of the different lifestyles, values and norms surrounding people’s relationships.<br />The following examples of different family structures make this a little more understandable:<br />
  4. 4. Nuclear Family<br />This family consists of: <br /><ul><li>Parents
  5. 5. Children</li></ul> This is and has been the most common family structure in history but is now under threat, due to demand for other family structures.<br /> Contacts with wider kin (aunts and cousins, for example) are usually infrequent and more likely to involve ‘impersonal contacts’ such as texting, telephone, facebook or email. For this reason, this family structure is sometimes called an isolated nuclear(reflecting its isolation from wider kin or conjugal family – a self- contained unit whereby family members are expected to support each other socially, economically and psychologically.<br />
  6. 6. The Cereal Packet Family<br /> Sociologists also sometimes talk about ‘the cereal packet family’ - a certain type of nuclear - this refers to the image most people hold of the family. It is also the picture of the family that the media tends to present, especially in adverts.<br /> <br />The cereal packet family comprises of:<br /><ul><li>Parents
  7. 7. Children </li></ul> The woman is a housewife and full time mother and the man is the 'breadwinner' i.e. he is the one who has to go to work to earn money. <br />
  8. 8. Example Images of Cereal Packet Family<br />
  9. 9. Group Questions<br /><ul><li>Discuss in groups of 2-3 people.</li></ul>Questions: <br />Why does the media persist in idealising the cereal packet family? <br />How has the diversity of roles in the household changed in recent years and is this reflected in the media?<br /><ul><li>Give a list of reasons and be prepared to explain them to the class.</li></li></ul><li>Extended Family<br />As the name suggests, involve additional family members.This family structure usually consists of:<br /><ul><li>Grandparents
  10. 10. Parents
  11. 11. Children</li></ul> This structure comes in three basic flavours: <br />Vertically extended consists of three or more generations (grandparents, parents and children) living in the same household or nearby.<br /> Horizontally extended involves relations such as aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. (relations of the same generation as the parents). These ‘extensions’ to the basic family group branch out within generations – a wife’s sister and her partner, for example, living with the family group. <br /> Modified-extended refers, according to Michael Gordon (The Nuclear Family in Crisis: The Search for an Alternative, 1972) to the idea that wider family members keep in regular touch with each <br /> other. This may be both in the form of spending time together and when that is not possible, using <br /> email, texting and phone conversations to remain close.<br />
  12. 12. Other Family Structures<br />Single-parent families involve a single adult plus their dependent child(ren). Although this is more likely to be a female parent, a significant change in the last decade show a proportion involve a male parent. <br /> This type of modern family is sometimes called a broken nuclear family, because it often – but not always– arises from the break-up of a two-parent family. <br />Critical Thinking:<br /><ul><li>What factors do you believe contribute to a rise the percentage of male single parent households? Explain.</li></li></ul><li>How have things changed?<br />Reconstituted (or ‘step’) families :<br /> (usually nuclear in form) result from the break-up of one family (through things like death or divorce) and its reconstitution as a unique family by remarriage or cohabitation. It may, therefore, involve children from a previous family as well as the new family.<br />Critical Thinking:<br />How well do you believe that reconstituted family functions in modern society compared to the more traditional Nuclear family style?<br />
  13. 13. Forward Thinking: Family Diversity<br />Homosexual Families:<br /> Usually nuclear in form, this type of modern family involves adults of <br /> the same sex plus children (own or adopted) and has only increased the diversity of family structures over recent decades. <br /> Homosexual couples cannot currently legally marry in the UK (a Labour Government Bill to recognise ‘Civil Partnerships’ – giving each partner legal rights similar to married heterosexual couples was rejected by the House of Lords in June 2004). Gay couples can, however, legally cohabit and raise children. <br />Critical Thinking:<br /><ul><li>How does allowing gay and lesbian couples to adopt and raise children add to the diversity of modern family structures? Explain.</li></li></ul><li>Ethnic Minority Families<br />South Asian Families<br />People coming to live in Britain from other countries has helped create greater diversity in the family. The increase in the number of South Asian families in Britain has contributed to an increase in the number of vertically extended families.<br />West Indian Families<br />These households in Britain tend to have a higher number of lone parent families headed by the mother than other ethnic groups. The term for this is matriarchal (this means a female dominated family). West Indian lone parent families tend to have strong support networks amongst their female relatives.<br />
  14. 14. Full Circle…<br />Original Question: Has family life become more diverse in modern Britain?<br />Yes, it seems that family life has become more diverse. The multiple family structures discussed during this lesson are evidence that there is no one particular family type in Britain. <br />This is why most sociologists believe that UK family types are becoming increasingly diverse.<br />
  15. 15. Extend Your Learning<br />Some useful websites to further your Sociology knowledge:<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />