Being a Part of an Extended Family


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The purpose of this essay is to evaluate the changes of the roles and relationships within the family and to evaluate how the family types due to diversity, has change over the last 50 years.

Since the 1960’s there has be a dramatic increase in the family and household diversity. Also, the 60’s saw multiple annalistic theorists who assumed the family was automatically a favorable institution. But along with the theorists, Feminists and Marxists began to emphasize on what the negative aspects of family life. The criticism from the theorists were not the only ones to condemn the family life but also by the social changes that weakened the traditional family (Haralambos et al, 2013).

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In 1972, 480,000 couple got married. This is highest since World War Two. (National Statistics) cited by (Moore, et al 2008)states that this was a result of the baby booms in the 1950’s, where the people came of marital age and chose to marry younger than their generations before them ( Moore, S. 2008).

According to (Murphy, 2006) cited by (Moore, 2008) for the year 1971 there were 11,249 married couples, in 2006 there was a decline of 9,409 and predicted for 2026 there would be a further decline of 8,834 married couples. For cohabitating couples there was a very small amount of 204 in 1971, a big rise in 2006 of 2161 and predicted for 2026 an incline of 3358 cohabitating couples. In 1971 again there was a small number of lone parents of 381, a dramatic rise to 1642 2006 and a small incline to 1876 predicted for 2026. For 1971 there is a low number of 1165 of other multi person households, 2006 saw a slight incline to 1447 and predicted for 2026 another incline to 1759. A one-person household has higher number compared to other households but are not higher than married couples. 1971 saw a number of 2935, a big rise in 2006 to 6825 and 2026 would be predicted to 9886.

It was said that the nuclear family was the best family to have. But as times have changed the nuclear is not the only family unit. Along with the nuclear family there are the extended family which consist of the grandparents or horizontal extended including the parent’s brother/sister and their spouse. Functionalist sociologists (Bell and Vogel, 1968) cited by (Haralambos et al, 2013) states that “ the extended family as ‘any grouping broader than the nuclear family which is related by decent, marriage or adoption”.

According to (Murdock, ND) cited by (Haralambos et al, 2013) the family should consist of two adults of each sex.

In later years there have been a rise on same sex couples with children, who either adopt or use donors. Cohabitating is where the heterosexual parents are in a sexual relationship, who do not marry or have no interest in marrying. There are single parent households, either by separation or were never in a relationship in the first place. A single parent may have been widowed aswell.

There are also step families, where the single parent has remarried so both parents may have children from previous relationships. Step families are also referred to as reconstituted families (Giddens and Sutton, 2013).

(Giddens, 1993) cited by (Haralambos et al, 2013) examined how intimate relationships changed in the modern society. He said that marriages prior to modernity were not derived by sexual intimacy but by economic circumstances to establish a family or to be able to inherit property. (Giddens, 1993) cited by (Haralambos et al, 2013) states that the recent stage in modern society saw a major change in the essence towards intimate relationships. People now have a wider range of choices on who and how much they have sexual relations with.

Since the Divorce reform Act came into power in 1971, it has made it easier with less stigmas for unhappy couples to divorce. The past 30 years saw half of the grated divorces were by the wife on the husbands’ unreasonable behavior. In recent years though the husband’s have divorced their wives for both unreasonable behavior and 2 years separation. Since the Act the husbands’ have used separation more than the wives and the wives have used unreasonable behavior more than the husbands’ ( Haskey, 2018).

The divorce rate fell to its lowest in 2009 since 1974, but it is still highest among 25-29 year olds, this is twice the amount over the other age groups (Office of national Statistics, N.D) cited by (Ross, 2011). Young couples are less likely to try and fix their marriage before resorting to filing for divorce. This information came from experts in relationships who indicated that in modern societies life-long marriages are not such a necessity as they use to be. In this age there is a considerable amount of relationship choices. This seems to be important as some may put personal ambitions first before committing to a relationship (Ross,2011).

A survey in 2006 conducted by (Duncan and Philips, 2008) cited by (Haralambos et al, 2013) revealed that 63 percent admit that divorce can be a beneficial start to creating a new life, although only 7 percent think otherwise.

Since contraception was created, there has been a major impact on the society in the past 50 years. The availability of the low cost, reliable and easy to use contraceptive pill, improved the welfare of single women who did not want to fall pregnant. Birth control also gave couples the power to decide how many children they have or if they have any at all (Oreffice, 2015). 

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