Examining The View That The Traditional Nuclear Family Is In Decline

2005 words - 8 pages

Examining the View that the Traditional Nuclear Family is in Decline

When evaluating the view that the traditional nuclear family (of two
opposite sex married parents living in a household that contains only
them and their own dependant children), is in decline, I will be
taking various pieces of research and evidence from Sociologists,
Journalists and other sources, into consideration in order to try to
determine how true this view is. The nuclear family would appear to be
found internationally and would be described as ‘universal’ by
Murdock, varying in popularity from country to country, however I will
be concentrating mainly in the UK. The idea that the ‘traditional’
nuclear family is in decline is not new. Journalists, columnists and
sociologists have been researching this theory for many years now and
it would seem that most agree with the hypothesis.

Most sociologists agree that the nuclear family first became popular
in the United Kingdom in the 1950 - 1960’s after World War 2, although
it existed from approximately the 18th Century. It originally occurred
in upper-class families that could afford to live in this way and then
eventually filtered down to the middle-classes and finally became
popular amongst most classes in the twentieth century.

Functionalists would argue that the Nuclear Family started to become
more popular due to the growth of Industrialisation. This led to more
families leaving the rural areas and extended families that they
originated from and setting up home in cities and towns in order to
find work. This view claims that the family ceased to be a unit of
production and instead became a modern unit – a time when due to the
increase in women’s rights and the introduction of the contraceptive
pill meant the birth rate would start to decrease rapidly.

In the beginning of the twentieth century the role of the average
woman and family was very different to that of the later twentieth
century, most women would stay at home with their children while their
husbands went out to earn money. It was at this time that the average
amount of children per woman was six; recent statistics show that it
has dropped, alarmingly, to 1.7 (National Office Of Statistics), with
many women choosing not to have children at all. Mike Featherstone
(1991) proposed that in modern day living, individuals have a great
deal more choice and freedom over how to live their lives. They do not
have to battle with the parts of their lifestyle that in
pre-industrial Britain would have stopped them from doing as they
wish. He suggested that it would not be unsurprising at all if family
types did not become more diverse and less obscure family types would
not rise. This would indeed appear to be so; there is evidence to show
that the extended family is increasing at the moment due to the

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