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Family diversity is a term coined by sociologists Rappaport and Rappaport (1982), who think that the family is taking on many more forms other than the nuclear family, rendering the Functionalist definition of the family by Murdock outdated.

They identified five distinct elements of family diversity in Britain:

  • Organsational diversity: variations in family structure, household type, and patterns of kinship network and differences in the division of labor within the home. (Increasing number of reconstituted families)</p>
  • Cultural diversity: Differences in the lifestyles of families of different ethnic origins and different religious beliefs
  • Class diversity: Differences between middle class and working class families
  • Lifecycle diversity: Newly married couples without children may have a different family life from those with dependent children.
  • Cohort diversity: Refers to the period during which the family passed through different stages of the family life cycle.

Related sociologists

Gernsheim(1992) postmodern idea

It is difficult to maintain the definition of family.

Uncertainties created by:

  • Traditional family roles and relationships are becoming unclear.
  • Official statistics no longer use categories which distinguish different lifestyles. (single=not in stable relationship/living apart together)
  • Social acceptance of bringing up children in different domestic settings
  • Advances in medicine I.V.F:  surrogate motherhood
  • Family law complicate family relationship (Naming)
  • Increase in divorce create reconstituted family.

More Reasons:

  • Family members have their own definition of who belong to their family, about choice
  • A consequence of greater individuation
  • Greater fluidity and uncertainty in kinship relations

Result:</p>

  • Traditional family become less common

Allan and Crow(2001)---more recent</p>

There is no longer a clear family cycle---no longer pass through routine stages of life</p>

Continuing trend towards the diversification of family types---based on increased choice with no constrain on social convention or economic need</p>

Demographic changes contribute to increased diversity:</p>

  • Divorce rate has risen since it is easier to proceed law
  • Lone parent households increased
  • Cohabitation outside marriage (early 1960s only 1/20, by late 1980 1/2 in UK)
  • Marriage rates have declined---people are marrying later
  • Big increase in the number of stepfamilies
  • Single parenthood: an increase in marital breakdown and a rise in births to unmarried mothers

Rapoport and Rapoport(1982)

Five distinct elements of family diversity in Britain:

  • Organizational diversity:

variations in family structure, household type, and patterns of kinship network and differences in the division of labor within the home. (Increasing number of reconstituted families)

  • Cultural diversity:

Differences in the lifestyles of families of different ethnic origins and different religious beliefs

  • Differences between middle class and working class families
  • Differences in the stage in life cycle. Newly married couples without children may have a different family life from those with dependent children
  • Cohort:

Refers to the period during which the family passed through different stages of the family life cycle

Statistics and Evidence

  • Since the 1960s there has been a steady decline in the proportion of households in Britain consisting of married couples with dependent children. From 38% in 1961 to just 21% in 2010.
  • A corresponding increase in the proportion of single-person households in the same period, from 12% in 1961 to 29% in 2010
  • General Household Survey: amongst the main ethnic groups the smallest household size found is Black Caribbeans(2.22), Whites(2.27), Indian(2.93), and with Bangladeshis(4.38) having the largest housholds
  • Policy Sutides Institute's Fourth National Survey: Whties and Caribbean had higher rates of divorce and cohabitation than other groups. Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis were the ethnic groups who were most likely to be married
  • PSI national survey:
    • Nearly all South Asian mothers were married but the patterns of change
    • Changing attitudes to family life, young people expect more say in the choice of marriage

Past paper questions