the family lec 1 amcd 2007

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Introduction:The family : 

Introduction:The family The family is a complex social institution Sociologists examine social change & how this impacts on family life Also study the role, functions & structure of families in society & how this may change over time


This lecture will outline some terms & definitions of the family & consider how the structure, functions & roles of families have changed over time Pre-industrialisation Industrialisation


Sociologists point out there is no such thing as ‘the family’ anymore The family structure has changed less than a quarter of households in UK conform to model of traditional family (Giddens 2006)

Some definitions & terms: 

Some definitions & terms Difference between ‘families’ & ‘households’ Family - a group of people tied by relationships of blood, marriage or adoption Household - a residence for one person or a group of people (who can be family or unrelated), sharing accommodation


Nuclear family - mother, father & children (natural or adopted) Extended family - nuclear family + one or more other relatives Modified extended family - close family members live in close proximity to each other

The family: Historical developments: 

The family: Historical developments Before industrialisation: Home & workplace were often in same place Community life was significant (above differed from the modern isolated nuclear family of modernity)


Marriage often seen as an alliance Production of most goods & services was organised within the household Family seen as the basic unit of social production

How did industrialisation impact on family life?: 

How did industrialisation impact on family life? Production of goods became organised through workshops & factories Led to separation of home & workplace From being an integral part of family life, work became a separate, external activity Thus, family mostly lost the function of production


Industrialisation led to profound changes in family life Wage labour - source of family income women often excluded from social production Husbands seen as the principle breadwinner However, Harris (1977) highlights a gradual change of roles


‘….industrialisation did not result immediately in a differentiation between domestic & industrial labour tied to gender & the isolation of the family. On the contrary, all members of the family were employed in the factories & the mines, & women & children were only gradually excluded’


Despite effects of industrialisation on family life Many families still produced goods for consumption Many women & children involved in domestic or cottage industries


Absolute dependence on purchased goods occurred in later stages of industrial capitalism


Agricultural economy Extended family


Industrialisation & urbanisation Manufacturing economy Nuclear family

Has industrialisation altered the structure of the family?: 

Has industrialisation altered the structure of the family? Traditional sociological views: The present form of family (nuclear) evolved from an earlier extended type Extended family was predominant in pre-industrial times Modern nuclear family emerged as a result of industrialisation & urbanisation


This refers to ‘evolutionary’ view (supported by functionalist sociologists) Marxists also agree with above, but promote capitalism as the cause (not industrialisation)

Challenges to evolutionary view : 

Challenges to evolutionary view Laslett (1972) researched parish records found evidence that extended families were not dominant during pre-industrialisation in Western Europe Nuclear family more typical


However, others (Anderson 1981) studied households in Preston, a textile area Analysis of 1851 census data Found evidence of extended families Older relatives cared for children families took in orphans & / or lodgers


Later research (1950’s) Henriques & Slaughter, “Coal is our life” found: Similar patterns of extended family living Extended families could help younger members get work


Thus, for many urbanised w/c families, industrialisation did not result in nuclear family household

Conclusion: Why is a historical analysis of the family important?: 

Conclusion: Why is a historical analysis of the family important? Examined effects of industrialisation on families & households (roles/functions) Points to complexity of family structures in the past Questions simple ‘before’ & ‘after’ views re impact of industrialisation on family Diversity is not a modern phenomenon

Next lecture: 

Next lecture Will examine relevant sociological theoretical debates re the family This will include analysis of Functionalism Marxism Feminism Critical theory/New right approaches Postmodernism

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