The Nuclear Family Replaced The Extended Family After Industrialisation

948 words - 4 pages

The Nuclear Family Replaced the Extended Family After Industrialisation

Talcott Parsons believed that the nuclear family developed mainly as a
result of industrialisation. He thought that before the industry took
over the functions of the family, the families were extended units of
production. This means that the work and home lives were combined and
so each family member taught another one skill for life such as
education. Parsons says that the extended family stayed together so
they could provide health care for one another and look after the old
people whilst the old people looked after the young children whilst
the parents were out working. They also pursued justice on behalf of
one another; if one family member were hard done by, all the other
family members would help sort it out.

Parsons believed that the industrial revolution brought about three
fundamental changes. The first of these was the new social roles where
the men went out to work and the women stayed at home to do housework
and look after the children. The second was the extended family became
geographically mobile. He believed that by becoming geographically
mobile, the extended family was forced to split up into smaller groups
to move around to find work and this is why we have nuclear families
today. The third was that specialised agencies such as the welfare
state took over the work done by families and so separated homes and
work. However the nuclear family is also a specialised agency in child
socialisation. Willmott and Young are two functionalists who agree
with Parsons view that the nuclear family came about after
industrialisation and that before hand we were mostly extended family.
However, they believed that the extended family evolved into the
nuclear family in three key stages. In the first stage, the
Pre-Industrial family was extended and they all lived and worked
together. In the second stage, the Early Industrial family were
extended families beginning to become geographically mobile, dying out
and becoming less common. In the third stage, the Symmetrical family
was the beginning of the nuclear family, where they had split up from
extended family into father, mother, and two children.

However, there are criticisms to the functionalist view that the
industrial revolution brought about the nuclear family. Peter Laslett
was a social historian who believed that pre and post industrial
families were mostly nuclear. He studied Northern Europe and found
that families were not likely to...

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