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Section A

Answer question 1.

1 In many societies there no longer seems to be one dominant family form to which most of society’s members belong. Instead, there is a variety of family forms and less pressure is placed on members of society to conform to traditional structures. With changing social attitudes and increased migration, more family forms are to be found in more societies.

The New Right have a conservative perspective on the family and are opposed to family diversity. They believe that society is best served by ‘traditional’ nuclear families where married couples live with dependent children and there is a clear division of labour between the parents. They believe that alternative family forms such as the lone-parent family create problems both for their members and society.

(a) What is meant by lone-parent family? [2]

1 A partial definition such as when a parent is on their own.

2 An accurate definition such as when a single parent, usually the mother, brings up their children on their own.

(b) Describe two problems that some sociologists think lone-parent families create for society. [4]

Two marks available for each problem. 1 mark for identification or development only, 2 marks for identification and development.

Points that can be included are higher crime rate, educational failure, dependency culture, creating family instability, weakening moral basis of society, breaking down traditional roles.

1 Identification of points alone without development, such as they think lone-parent families are responsible for hooligan behaviour, or simple responses such as they cause crime or drunkenness or drug taking in society.

2 A detailed response might be that some theorists think that single parent families cause a breakdown in the traditional roles in society such as expressive and instrumental roles so that with women, especially single mothers, working this leads to a break down in values and morals in societies.

(c) Explain how ethnicity may influence family forms. [8]

L 1 0–4 Answers with a limited understanding of the question as set. Descriptions of different families alone may be worth 1 or 2 marks.

Better answers at this level, 3 to 4 marks, would identify one or two points, such as migration patterns introducing new forms such as multi-generational families, but there will be little depth in the explanations offered and the answer will rely on description.

L 2 5–8 A sound account of two or more well-made points. At the bottom of the level, 5 or 6 marks, may be limited to references of statistical data. Other factors that could be referred to can include reference to such theorists as Ballard and Barrow and the family forms to be found in Britain (or any other society).

At 7–8 marks, answers can attempt to assess the ‘may’ in the question by considering such issues as assimilation and second/third generations adapting to main-stream forms. Place at the top of the level according to the depth and/or range of examples explained and supported by reference to theory or empirical data. Other 7–8 mark answers may focus on and describe a variety of family forms linked to different ethnic groups.

N.B. This question asks candidates to ‘explain’ therefore there is no requirement for assessment, but do not penalise those candidates who do evaluate.

(d) Assess the view that the family in modern industrial societies is increasingly characterised by diversity.[11]

L 1 0–4 A few general points about society having lots of different families may gain 1 or 2 marks.

General descriptions of how individuals may choose which sort of family they want to live in may go to the top of the level 3 to 4 marks. Other answers which offer short descriptive accounts of either different types of families or roles within families may go to the top of the band. In this mark band answers are likely to consider only one society.

L 2 5–8 A sound description of the way in which industrialisation has changed families according to functionalist views should receive a mark at the lower end, 5 to 6 marks, of this level. In this level answers may be supported by ideas such as Parsons. Answers of this type are likely to concentrate on theorists such as Murdock and the universal presence of the nuclear family set within an endless variety of cultural variations. Other answers may wholly or partially reject the idea of diversity in favour of the dominance of the nuclear family. Award 5–6 marks for answers that give some detailed consideration of either position.

Award 7–8 marks for answers that consider both sides of the argument and show that in modern industrial societies family types are diverse but that most individuals conform to dominant types, but answers may juxtapose these points of view rather than assessing.

There should be some use of theorists or empirical data to support points at this level and answers should offer a sound attempt to contrast views, most probably from functionalist and Marxist positions. In this level answers may not be focused explicitly on modern industrial societies.

L 3 9–11 Answers at this level should provide a detailed account of the way in which diversity can be found in modern industrial societies, or not.

In this level some comments on statistical data may be noted and answers should clearly focus on modern industrial societies. Some answers may highlight types of diversity such as that of the Rapoports and five types of diversity. Others may look at the way in which migration (or globalisation) has caused family types to change. Issues such as ethnic migration patterns can be referred to. There should be an attempt to assess the way in which this can be interpreted, probably from a functionalist position.

There should be assessment to reach this level, and at 10–11 marks some signs of weighing up ‘increasingly’ and how it may be assessed, or of the continuance of the female carer-core, with conclusive points. There is likely to be use of functionalist versus conflict positions, but also postmodernism with freedom to choose relationships and alternative family practices and, possibly, a critique of this.

Other issues can be included, such as same sex relationships as well as friends the ‘new family’. Concepts such as consensus, family practices, life style, risk society, universal, divorce and the negotiated family may be referred to.

Evaluative answers can be supported by such examples as postmodernists, who argue that social actors have some choice in family relationships and structural theories are too deterministic.


Section B

Answer either question 2 or question 3.

2 Explain and assess the view that the main role of the family is to support the state. [25]

L 1 0–6 Answers in this level are likely to be assertive and focus on a few common sense observations about what families do, with no sociological support.

A few simple points about a function such as socialisation, or answers which refer to basic functionalist theory alone may gain up to 3 or 4 marks.

If some limited understanding of the meaning of the state is shown, such as the governance of a country as well as an understanding of socialisation, a mark of 6 may be awarded.

L 2 7–12 A basic account of the importance of the functions of the family in the lives of its members, with no reference to the way this may (or may not) impact on the state, would be worthy of the lower marks in the level, 7 to 9 marks.

An outline of one view such as the Marxist view of families helping to maintain capitalism with no development, may go up to 10 marks. Another type of answer may make no reference to Marxist views and concentrate on the way the family looks after its members from a functionalist perspective.

To go higher, 11 to 12 marks, there should either be a discussion, such as the feminist view that the family serves patriarchy rather and any other purpose, or a discussion of other theories, such as the functionalist view of society as an interconnected organism. There may be no assessment in this level, or assessment by juxtaposition.

L 3 13–18 Answers that enter this level should refer to ideas linked to a variety of functions of the family that may include a direct assessment of the role of the family in supporting the state. Points made will be supported by theories drawn from Marxist, functionalist and feminist perspectives.

Lower in the level, 13 to 14 marks, the discussion may be limited to two theories. To get to 15 to 16 marks candidates should demonstrate good understanding of the topic with some interpretation of the evidence, such as the functionalist view that there are several important functions to the Marxist (or feminist) view that there is a major function of supporting the state (or patriarchy). Other answers may display a detailed assessment but be unsupported by much knowledge.

To get into the higher part of the level, 17 to 18 marks, there should be some assessment of the extent to which primary function is a viable proposition. However, this assessment will be lacking in detail and may rely on the juxtaposition of different theories such as functionalist, Marxist and feminist.

L 4 19–25 Answers at this level must achieve three things:

First, there will be good sociological knowledge and understanding.

Second, the material used will be interpreted accurately and applied effectively to answering the question.

Third, there must also be some evidence of assessment.

Answers in this level should provide a solid account of ways of looking at the functions of the family, including feminism, and at the highest level, 22 to 25 marks, postmodernism. There will also be a sustained and well informed assessment of the role of the family both as a positive provider of services and as a cushion from brutal life.

Lower in the level, 19 to 21 marks this assessment may still be mainly by juxtaposition of the main sociological theories such as functionalism, Marxism and feminism.

To go higher in the level, 22 to 25 marks, there should also be a more direct analysis of the way in which the state may try to influence family life. This analysis may take the form of arguing from a postmodern perspective that with traditional values breaking down, individuals no longer have to fit into traditional family roles thus changing the relationship between families and the state.

Another way of gaining the highest level would be to assess the family as an economic system and who gets what from family life. Concepts such as ideological control/conditioning, patriarchy, consensus, and economic determinism, illusion of private life, cultural defence, and loss of function, inequality and institutional reflexivity may be referred to.

There should be at least the outline of a conclusion to gain full marks.

3 ‘‘Changes in family life have brought an end to gender inequality in the home.’ Explain and assess this view. [25]

L 1 0–6 Answers at this level are likely to be assertive and focus on a few common sense observations about how women spend their time, with no sociological support. A few simple points about female roles such as those of wives and mothers may gain up to 3 or 4 marks.

If some limited understanding of the process of equality is shown, such as the development of the symmetrical family, or a limited understanding of the issues involved with equality is shown a mark of 6 may be awarded.

L 2 7–12 A basic account of the importance of the development of gender equality in modern industrial societies with no specific reference to family life would be worthy of the lower marks, 7 to 9, in the level.

An outline of women’s lives in the past compared to today with no development may go up to 10 marks.

To go higher, 11 to 12 marks, there should either be a discussion of issues, such as domestic violence as an indication that not much has changed, or a discussion of the way in which the law has changed things by introducing equality and divorce.

Evidence may be provided by theories about the role of women, most likely by a comparison of functionalist and feminist theories. In this level answers are likely to be confined, only, to references to conjugal roles.

There may be no assessment in this level, or assessment may be by juxtaposition alone.

L 3 13–18 Answers that enter this level should refer to ideas linked to the role of females in the family that include conjugal roles, as well as roles of mothers and daughters.

Lower in the level, 13 to 14 marks, the discussion may be limited to conjugal roles and the expectations placed on girls as compared to boys. Other answers at this level may refer to change brought about in families due to fluctuations in fertility rates.

To get to 15 to 16 marks candidates should demonstrate good understanding of the topic with some interpretation of the evidence, such as the position of females in minority ethnic families, or a range of examples of the way family life impacts on females with issues such as time management, who decides, care of weaker family members and paid employment (both increasing female and decreasing male employment). Other answers may display a detailed assessment but be unsupported by much knowledge.

To get into the higher part of the level, 17 to 18 marks, there should be some assessment of the extent to which the position of men has changed, or not, in relation to women in the family as well as that of women. This may be done by reference to the impact on families brought about by education. However, this assessment will be lacking in detail and may rely on the juxtaposition of different theories or evidence such as that of Young and Willmott compared to that of Delphy and Leonard.

L 4 19–25 Answers at this level must achieve three things:

First, there will be good sociological knowledge and understanding.

Second, the material used will be interpreted accurately and applied effectively to answering the question.

Third, there must also be some evidence of assessment.

Answers in this level should provide a solid account of the changing status of women in the family in modern industrial societies including an assessment of how much change there has been. There will also be a sustained and well informed assessment of the role of women in families, such as in relation to economic power, care of children and the elderly, female dissatisfaction with marriage and mental illness and marriage.

Lower in the level, 19 to 21 marks, this assessment may still be mainly by juxtaposition of the main sociological theories such as functionalist and feminist. To go higher in the level, 22 to 25 marks, there must also be a more direct analysis of the different feminist perspectives. This analysis may take the form of arguing that liberal feminists have much in common with functionalists and the march of progress, whereas radical feminists have more in common with conflict theory in seeing oppression present in the home.

Another way of gaining the highest level would be to make cross cultural comparisons of the lives of women in industrial societies where traditional values have meant that there has not been much change. Credit answers which raise the issue that it is hard to know which changes first, values or behaviours. Also credit answers which fully explore gender changes rather than interpreting this purely as changes to females.

Concepts such as emotion work, domestic violence, dual/triple burden, divorce, new masculinities, and ideology of the family, normative expectations, arranged marriage, female infanticide, and confluent love may be used.

There should be at least the outline of a conclusion to gain full marks.

Useful information (Hints)

Question 1(a)

Question 1(b)

Question 1(c)

Question 1(d)

Question 2

Question 3