Assessing the Claim that the Nuclear Family had the Best Fit for Industrial and Modern Society

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Assessing the Claim that the Nuclear Family had the Best Fit for Industrial and Modern Society The relationship between the structure of the family and the related processes of industrialization and modernization is a major theme in sociological study of the family. Industrialization refers to the growth in the mass production of goods in a factory system which involves mechanical production which started in the late 19th century and continues still today and modernization is the development of social, cultural, economic and political institutions which are thought of as typical in a modern society. These developments include the replacement of religious belief systems with scientific ones, the growth of bureaucracy and the replacement of Monarchies with representative democracies. The claim that the nuclear family was the best fit for industrialization and modernization has weighted arguments for and against. Where some sociologists regard industrialization as the central process involved in changes in western societies since the 18th century; others attach more importance to broader processes of modernization. However, there are a number of problems that arise from relating the family to industrialization or modernization: they are not fixed states but constantly developing processes, they do not follow the same course in every society and some writers believe we are in a stage of post-modernity. Further difficulties arise from the fact that there are many forms of pre-industrial and pre-modern families. So it is not always clear what the family in modern industrial society is being compared to. During industrialization the family went under many changes. It ceased to be a unit of production as people started going to work for other people in return for wages; there was no welfare state and therefore unemployment, widespread poverty and ill-health which lead to high infant mortality and death rates and extended families formed as mutual support networks for security against hardship. These all meant that the family would have to adapt more to survive in the ever-changing social structure. At this time many people now lived in extended families to support each other.

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