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Family in UK - Essay Example

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The definition of family has changed over the centuries for reasons that include both social and structural changes in the western world.The UK family structure has changed in the last 40-40 years.Initially,social scientists including anthropologists and sociologists agreed on various ‘conventional’ definition of family…
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Family in UK
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Download file to see previous pages The definition of family has changed over the centuries for reasons that include both social and structural changes in the western world. The UK family structure has changed in the last 40-40 years.Initially, social scientists including anthropologists and sociologists agreed on various ‘conventional’ definition of family. One such definition was that of Murdocks in 1949, which stated, “A social group characterized by common residence, economic corporation, and reproduction. It includes adults of both sexes, at least two of whom maintain a socially approved sexual relationship, and one or more children, own or adopted, of the sexually cohabiting adults” (Settles, pp56, 1999). According to Coontz, the world family until the 19th century was commonly explained as a married couple, living with their co-resident children and distinguished from a household or more distant kin (Arnold, 2007, n.d). Therefore, the definitions stated above, and as described by the question have common themes, that of a union of a heterosexual couple (male and female) with recognized rights and obligations, and children. Heterosexuality is the sexual orientation to the persons of the opposite sex. This definition of the family is that of a nuclear family (Lamanna & Reidmann, pp3, 2006). However, at the turn of the 20th century, contemporary social scientists have challenged this definition of family. Various new definitions of family have emerged. There have been various phenomena, which have changed this traditional definition. During the 1900s, Western world had seen dramatic shifts in women employment, opportunities for sexual expression, and technological advances that have touched numerous aspects of the social life of individuals. In addition, the society of today is a dynamic one and families are adapting to meet the new demands of the world. This is because now change and diversity is the norm (Karraker & Grochowski, pp18, 2006). Many people because of a variety of factors have reconsidered the conventional definition of family. This may be because of increased awareness of human rights and equality, feminism, and the place of law. One other reason is due to the increased divorce rate that increased in the mid-fifties. This has led to the family including one divorced adult with another heterosexual adult, bringing up a custodial child (belonging to either adult) and children. Hence, one wonders about the boundaries of family (Settles, pp57, 1999). Families offer the need of intimacy, communication, problem solving and helping each other according to Karraker & Grochowski (2006). Grochowski’s concept of strategic living communities has expanded the traditional definition of family to include all such members who offer intimacy and love. In a way, families are regarded as proactive organism, and it should not be limited to rigid definitions and stereotypes. In this way, everyone has their own right to define who their family is. It is highly independent on the individual (Karraker, Grochowski, pp18, 2006). Therefore, in the recent times, social scientists of different fields have challenged the conventional definition of family. Family is a very core concept in social sciences especially that in sociology. Hence, the paper will initially address the sociologists’ view of the conventional definition of family. In sociology, the family is regarded as the social institution. It is the key to primary socialization for children in society (Charles, pp. 1-2, 2004). Family life and work has transformed due to recent times in various countries. Hence, the issue of what a family consists of has been greatly talked about. In contemporary tines, the traditional definition is not synonymous to what families currently are. Today’s families include ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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