Postmodern views on diversity of the family Essay

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Outline and Evaluate postmodern views on the diversity of family (33marks) The idea of family diversity suggests that there is no dominate type of family, therefore none can be considered as the norm. However there are studies to suggest that in historical periods of Britain like when it was industrializing there is dominating types, in this period it was considered to be the nuclear family. Rapoport and Rapoport agreed that there are five types of diversity in a contemporary family, these are: Organisational, Cultural (ethnic), Class, Cohort and Life Course.

Organisational diversity refers to kinship patterns and the domestic division of labour, adding to this it is also the structure of the family-whether it is reconstituted or extended for example. Cultural diversity in Britain occurs because of ethnic minority, cultural diversity is the structure of these ethnic minority families. A stereo-typical look into an Afro- Caribbean family would show that they are often single-parent families with the mother being the main source of care and socialisation to the children.

The third type of diversity Rapoport et al showed was Class, it is clear that wealth and income has affected things like housing, room size/number, financial problems and holidays, for example. The final two types of diversity are Cohort and life course, cohort is the idea that family is affected those born in the same year (or band of years). Such individuals may well have a shared experience of historical events, for example, the introduction of comprehensive schools, or the introduction of the birth control pill. Finally life course is individuals within families can vary greatly.

This can reflect choice or circumstance. This covers such factors as the number of children, the spacing of the children, divorce, remarriage, widowhood. Another study carried out by Bonnerjea and Eversley point to a link between family type and locality – that specific patterns of family life are found in different parts of the country. The South and South East are home to large numbers of affluent two parent families, and there is a concentration of the elderly and single person households in certain coastal areas.

Family types in declining industrial areas tend towards the traditional structure, while inner cities contain higher than average levels of ethnic minority and lone parent families. Rural areas have typically been marked by traditional extended families. Some groups agree or disagree with the idea of diversity, for example Post-modernists believe that there is no one dominating family type, and they believe choice is important therefore women have more choice in domestic roles (so roles are now uncertain and negotiable). The post-modernists believe that these roles are influenced by the media and issues of consumption.

Adding to this, due to wide-spread diversity they believe that class and ethnicity are deconstructed, meaning that no two working class families are the same. A study to support the post-modernist perspective is the work of Beck and Beck-Gernsheim. They said that in today’s society we have more individual choice when it comes to relationships. Now we have a better standard of living, we enjoy a higher standard of education and there is a greater freedom of women. But the huge amount of freedom in the 21st century has created uncertainty and risk.

Life has now become a series of contradictions, we have more freedom and less obligations yet we get less support and security. People have to make difficult decisions in life about their career or/and personal fulfillment, this concludes in the family becoming the site where conflicts are played out. Finally we crave love and intimacy, but the commitment and importance of working makes it almost impossible to achieve, Becks view of the future is bleak. Another study which supports the Post-modernists view is the work done by Judith Stacey, she suggested there is no longer one single dominant type of family.

She also says that talking about stages of the development in family is redudant and nonsensical because there is no longer an accepted idea over which type of family is the best. She says that society needs to come to term with these changes and adapt to cope with the evolving family. Adding to this, in the past it has been suggested that the changing in arrangements of the upper and middle class families influenced the change in working class, however Stacey suggested that working class families were already changing arrangements and forming new types of family.

Another idea of Stacey’s is that the idea of the male breadwinner is a short-lived term in the working class communities, it was only until the last 20th century that men earn enough money to completely support his family at home, but now this is no longer the case. The case of Pam and Dotty are good examples of how women have responded to change occurring around them, plus they are also good examples of how people have rejected the nuclear family model.

The case of Pam and Dotty also presented to Stacey that women have gained strength from the working class, more evidence to back up this point is that Black women’s matriarchal support structures had responded to change in the economy and social conditions. Overall Stacey welcomes the diversity of the postmodern era looking forward to the possibility of more equal and democratic relationships ‘with no script to follow’ compared to the more rigid patriarchal ones of the modern period. Finally, in conclusion the postmodernist look heavily on the impact of consumption in family life.

For example how much do parents spend on fashionable clothes for children do they do this to make them look life good parents? Evaluative points on the postmodernists’ are that critics suggest that patriarchy and traditions still have a big impact on the family. The research sample of postmodernists like Judith Stacey has been criticised for not being representative of wider society. A positive point about these views is that it has freshened up the debate on family and realized there is change and diversity.

New Right writers strongly disagree with the postmodern views; they believe that the nuclear family is vital and that any other structure is seen as unsuccessful and disruptive. The new right is concerned with various issues highlighting: increasing permissiveness, sexual promiscuity, marital breakdown, a rise in illegitimate births and an increasing number in single parent families. According to the New Right Writers, these factors conclude in a higher rate of crime, juvenile delinquency, drug abuse, educational failures and a dependency culture.

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