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Section A

Answer question 1.

1 The family is often described as the most basic unit of social organisation and one which carries out important tasks, such as socialising children and caring for its members. It is to be found in all types of societies. Until the 1960s few sociologists questioned the benefits to be gained from family life and theorists such as Parsons argued that nuclear families provided a ‘best fit’ for life in modern industrial societies.

Since the 1960s there have been more critical assessments of family life and the different ways in which family members can be treated. Some feminists have argued that women are exploited by family life. Not only do women perform domestic chores but also enter the paid work force as well as carrying out emotion work.

Many forms of abuse can also be suffered in families. For example, children may be particularly vulnerable to emotional abuse, such as isolation and rejection by parents. They may also suffer physical harm. Abuse within the family may still occur, even in societies that have strong legal protections for human rights.

(a) What is meant by the term emotion work? [2]

1 mark for a partial definition such as managing the fears of children OR giving children affection.

2 marks for an accurate definition of emotion work such as the managing of one’s own and other people’s emotions/feelings frequently associated with caring for family members.

(b) Describe two ways in which family life benefits its members. [4]

Answers must show a benefit to at least one family member.

Points which may be referred to:

• More economic to live together/members provided for

• Socialisation of children

• Stabilisation of the adult personality

• Protection of members

• Look after the elderly

• Grandparents provide childcare

• Comfort for members

• Benefits men by being looked after

• Any other valid benefit

One mark for a named benefit and one mark for development (2 × 2).

(c) Explain why children may be vulnerable to abuse within the family. [8]

L 1 0–4 Answers at this level are likely to show only limited appreciation of the issues raised in the question.

Lower in the level a simple answer which identifies how children are unable to control the situation they are in or how they are ordered about may be worth 1 or 2 marks.

Higher in the level, an answer might advance a few limited observations such as naming the ways in which children can be mistreated by being physically or mentally abused and may be worth 3 or 4 marks, but there would be little depth in the explanations offered and the answer will rely on description rather than explanation.

L 2 5–8 Answers at this level show some sociological knowledge and understanding of the question.

Lower in the level, a simplistic description of ways that children are subject to control in the home and abuse which can be physical and emotional could be worth 5 or 6 marks. Other responses may describe why children cannot avoid abuse.

Higher in the level, a more detailed account of how children can suffer abuse in the family that could cover physical, emotional, sexual abuse as well as exploitation and neglect and such could gain 7 or 8 marks. Place at the top of the level according to depth and/or range of examples explained and supported by reference to theory or empirical data.

N.B. This question asks candidates to ‘explain’ therefore there is no requirement for assessment.

(d) Assess the view that males have a privileged position in families today. [11]

L 1 0–4 Answers at this level are likely to show only limited appreciation of the issues raised in the question.

Lower in the level, a simple answer that identifies a few basic features about males being looked after by females in families may gain 1 or 2 marks.

Higher in the level general descriptions of different types of families from different societies and the ways that men are treated in them may go to the top of the band and receive a mark of 3 or 4. Other top of the band answers may argue that men no longer have a privileged position in families but these will lack development.

L 2 5–8 Answers at this level show some sociological knowledge and understanding of the question.

Lower in the level, a simplistic description of trends in modern industrial society such as legal changes in relation to domestic violence would be worth a mark of 5 or 6. Such answers could be supported by descriptions of the variety of ways in which legal changes, in relation to equality, have increased (or not) the status of women or lowered (or not) the status of men in families

Another answer worth 5 or 6 marks could argue that males continue to have a superior position in families compared to that of females and support this with the ways in which daughters are treated in comparison to sons in some societies/cultures, such answers could gain up to 5 or 6 marks.

Higher in the level a more detailed account of how relationships within the home remain unequal could be supported by reference to feminist writers such as Ansley. Other responses at this level may note that education may be changing relationships.

Some candidates may note that education impacts on employment and then relate this to the social position of women in families.

Place at the top of the level according to depth and/or range of examples explained and supported by reference to theory/empirical data or studies. In this level relationships within the home are likely to be interpreted as those between husbands and wives.

A descriptive answer cannot gain more than 8 marks.

L 3 9–11 Answers at this level will demonstrate good sociological knowledge and understanding applied to the question. There will also be an assessment of the view on which the question is based.

Lower in the band (9–10 marks), the assessment may be based on a simple juxtaposition of the position of males compared to that of females within families. Such answers should consider males and females in families and not just husbands and wives. Other answers may juxtapose different theories.

At this level there may be some discussion of the changes that have taken place in many societies that have had some influence on the social position of males and females. Functionalist theories are likely to argue that there is more equality within families and this can be contrasted to feminist views of the continuation of patriarchy. Other answers may be confined to just one or two evaluative points.

At the top of the level (11 marks) the position of males will be evaluated explicitly and in reasonable depth. The notion of ‘privilege’ will be directly addressed, probably by a discussion of key concepts such as patriarchy, equality etc. and good use can be made of such concepts as fertility rates, secularisation, traditional values and domestic violence as well as others.


Section B

Answer either question 2 or question 3.

2 Explain and assess the New Right view that the welfare state undermines the nuclear family. [25]

L 1 0–6 Answers at this level are likely to be assertive and focus on a few common sense observations about how welfare makes people lazy with little or no sociological support.

Lower in the level, answers may be confined to one or two simple points based on assertion/common sense understanding. For example, one or two simple points about the state providing for individuals so they don’t have to work, may gain up to 3 marks.

Higher in the band, there may be a wider range of simple points based on assertion/common sense understanding. For example, statements about the supposed decline of the nuclear family due to single parent families may gain up to 6 marks.

Place here answers about the welfare of the state.

L 2 7–12 Answers at this level will show some sociological knowledge and understanding of the question.

Lower in the level (7–9 marks), the answer may be confined to a narrow range of points, lacking detail and possibly with some inaccuracies. For example, an outline of the views of the New Right/descriptions of the nuclear family/stating the nuclear family is the best type with no development, may gain up to 9 marks.

Higher in the level (10–12 marks), answers may either cover a narrow range of points in reasonable detail or cover a wider range of points in limited detail. Points candidates might cover include discussion of e.g. the views of the New Right. A basic account of the importance of nuclear families by reference to such studies as Young and Willmott and the four stages of the family.

An outline of how the welfare state may have either resulted in loss of function or have been a support to family life could also be placed towards the top of the band.

L 3 13–18 Answers at this level will show good sociological knowledge and understanding. The material used will be interpreted accurately in answering the question. There is no requirement for assessment at this level.

Lower in the level (13–15 marks), answers may use only a limited range of knowledge, there will be little use of concepts/theory/studies and the points covered may lack development.

Higher in the level (16–18 marks), answers will use a wider range of knowledge, supported by the use of concepts/theory where relevant and include some well developed points. Such answers are likely to consider both the role of the institutions of the state in enabling loss of function as well as the role of the state in supporting family life.

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.

Lower in the level (19–21 marks), the assessment may be largely delivered through juxtaposition of contrasting arguments/theories/studies. Alternatively, the assessment may be limited to just one or two evaluative points that are explicitly stated.

Answers in this level may provide a solid account of how prevalent the nuclear family is in different societies today compared to the past and may well explore family diversity.

New Right theories will be outlined and applied either to a specific society and its welfare provision or compared to other theories.

Higher in the level (22–25 marks), there will be sustained assessment and the points offered will be explicit and well-directed towards the question. There may also be a more direct analysis of the way in which nuclear families are still to be found but how changing social attitude and life expectations have increased the opportunities open to some individuals. This analysis may take the form of arguing that some families are more able to exploit welfare provision than others and if this is done it should be argued in the context of the New Right and other critical theories.

Good use can be made of such concepts as the broken family, dependency culture and the work of Murray.

There is likely to be a well formulated conclusion.

3 Explain and assess the view that families are becoming increasingly child-centred in modern industrial societies. [25]

L 1 0–6 Answers at this level are likely to be assertive and focus on a few common sense observations about the way children are raised with little or no sociological support. Lower in the level, answers may be confined to one or two simple points based on assertion/common sense understanding. For example, comments about smaller families making individual children more important may gain up to 3 marks.

Higher in the level, there may be a wider range of simple points based on assertion/common sense understanding. For example, an answer stating that childhood is a social construction/ the importance of children reflects the society they live in/reviews of the process of socialisation may gain up to 6 marks.

L 2 7–12 Answers at this level will show some sociological knowledge and understanding of the question.

Lower in the level (7–9 marks), the answer may be confined to a narrow range of points, lacking detail and possibly with some inaccuracies. For example, outlines of the way children spend their time in childhood with no reference to factors that influence these patterns, may gain up to 9 marks.

Higher in the level (10–12 marks), answers may either cover a narrow range of points in reasonable detail or cover a wider range of points in limited detail.

Points candidates might cover include discussion of e.g. the consequences of length of education, falling birth and infant mortality rates, changing life style, longevity and technology. Other answers may point out the exceptions to this such as child abuse.

L 3 13–18 Answers at this level will show good sociological knowledge and understanding. The material used will be interpreted accurately and applied effectively to answering the question. There is no requirement for assessment at this level.

Answers that enter this level will probably refer to ideas linked to the value attached by parents to their children as they have moved from an economic asset to one of economic liability and the influence this has on childhood.

Lower in the level (13–15 marks), answers may use only a limited range of knowledge/concepts/theory, and the points covered may lack development. Or the discussion may be limited to such issues as family planning and control of fertility.

Higher in the level (16–18 marks), answers will use a wider range of knowledge, supported by the use of concepts/theory where relevant and include some welldeveloped points. The extent to which the factors that influence childhood are universal (or not) may well be considered.

Some answers may accept that childhood has become child centred but question its quality.

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.

Lower in the level (19–21 marks), the assessment may be largely delivered through juxtaposition of contrasting arguments/theories/studies. Alternatively, the assessment may be limited to just one or two evaluative points that are explicitly stated. One way to do this would be by showing childhood as a time of protection and outlining the social factors that influence childhood which may include demography.

Higher in the level (22–25 marks), there will be sustained assessment and the points offered will be explicit and well-directed towards the question.

Answers in this level will provide a solid account of how childhood has lengthened in modern industrial societies including the changes brought about by the demands of education.

There should also be a sustained and well informed assessment of the consequences of falling rates of fertility such as the values placed on individual children by parents. This analysis may take the form of arguing that affluence and the withdrawal of children from the labour market having a more significant influence that falling birth rates or life expectancy.

To gain the highest marks there should be an assessment of how the lengthening of childhood may have influenced the development (or not) of a child centred attitude and some attempt to show how some children have failed to benefit from these changes within and between societies. There may be reference to ‘little emperors’. Good use can be made of concepts such as toxic childhood, child abuse, child labour, the dark side of the family and helicopter parents.

There is likely to be a well formulated conclusion.

Useful information (Hints)

Question 1(a)

Question 1(b)

Question 1(c)

Question 1(d)

Question 2

Question 3