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The Changing Nature Of Family Life

1555 words - 6 pages

The Changing Nature of Family Life

The focus of this piece of coursework is the changing nature of family
life given the extent of fatherless families in modern Britain.
Functionalists such as parsons and Murdock will be researched, as well
as the views of Damos and Sapsfors to comment on the impact of
fatherless families. My interest in fatherless family stems from my
own personal family experience of having divorce parents and living in
one parent family headed by my mother. I have therefore developed the
hypothesis: The recent growth of fatherless families has lead to many
manifests dysfunctions of the family.

Context and concepts

George Murdock’s classic study provides the focus for my work; the
nuclear family performs four basic functions in all societies. Which
he turned the sexual, reproductive, economical and education. He
describes the family as a social group characterised by common
residence, economic co- operation and reproduction. It includes an
adult of each sex, who maintain a socially approves sexual
relationship and one or more children of the sexually cohabitating
adults. Therefore from this definition it is clear that ‘fatherless
families’ which exist in today’s society are not considered from a
functionalist perspective as normal. Harmonious stable families

Talcott Parsons argues that the concept of the ‘isolated nuclear
family’ describes structure that provides warmth, security and
support. He could conceive of no institution other than family that
could provide these services. According to Parsons the family retains
two basic functions which are common in all societies. These are
‘primary socialisation of children’ and stabilisation of adult
personalities’. It is significant that according to Parsons these
functions are not present in fatherless families and therefore
fatherless families are excluded from the norm of society and are
portrayed as dysfunctional. Dysfunctional families are usually
associated with poor education and are stereotypically connected with
drugs, violence and alcohol abuse.

On the other hand a study by Damos and Sapsford point out that being a
lone parent can take a variety of forms. Despite this in most cases
lone parent families are headed by the mother who take prime emotional
and often financial responsibility for their offspring. They also
found that form talking to mothers that “periods of initial doubt and
anxiety was often followed by feeling of increased self confidence and
the enjoyment of independence and autonomy” (Haralambos and Holborn)
Damos and Sapsford conclude that in many in many cases lone parenthood
reflects the choice of at least some women. They reject the idea that
‘fatherless families’ are somehow dysfunctional and argue that this
family structure is now both established...

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