Family Formations Essay

2137 words - 9 pages

Outline and critically assess the most significant crises, conflicts and changes in family formations over the last two decades (since 1990). Make reference to your own experience, in terms of changes in identity and identifications over time.

In order to address the question it is important to present the evidence which shows that there have been conflicts, crises, and changes in society since 1990. It is widely understood there are many formations of the family. This involves the forever changing affects on society which bring us back to the family. This essay will discuss the social changes occur within the family paying particular attention to lone parenthood. It will look at changes to marriage, divorce, births outside marriage and poverty and look at to what extent these changes have had on British society since 1990, and also what these changes have meant to the family within.

In Western Society, over the past two decades there has been significant changes in the which the family is forming. We have seen major shifts in the demographic constitution of the family and public policy, especially in terms of their formation and dissolution. As a result of this there is far more diversity in people's domestic and living arrangements compared to how they were earlier in the centuries. It has been noticed over these recent decades that living patterns between individuals are less and less conforming appropriately to the model of the nuclear family leaving some commentators to claim the family is in terminal decline. Increases in divorce, cohabitation, births outside marriage and lone parent families all result in old certainties to family formations being questioned. (Kiernan, 1998)

In society, the family is seen as a norm and sociological studies has been dominated by what the family is and what needs it fulfils in society. (Gittens, 1993) The family is seen as a universal social institution which must perform certain specific functions which is essential to society's survival. The principle architect of the model nuclear family was functionalist Talcott Parsons. He argued that the nuclear family household has two main functions in modern industrial society; they are socialisation of children and the 'personality stabilization' of adults. (Parsons, 1955).

The nuclear family is defined as a small unit consisting of a married couple and their child/children and is united by ties of affection, identity and support. It is widely assumed that this form is the most dominant in society and anything other may be considered as deviant and unacceptable. (Allan and Crowe, 2001) However, this conception of how the family is constituted may be more a reflection on how relationships should be structured rather than how they are and hasn't paid enough attention to the real diversity of experiences in family life, including the increase in numbers of single parent families. (Cheal, 1991).

Firstly, a key factor to consider relating to...

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