The Importance Of Family And Family Structures

Better Essays
The family is in transition – family structures are growing into exciting new possibilities, due to this, there has been a dramatic increase of diversity in the family and household structures since the earliest centuries. In Africa, our real and perceived blood ties are not bounded by the household or the village, but stretch across communal areas as far as the eye can see and the heart can reach. Traditionally, newcomers would be accepted as part of the family and only excluded only if they spurned the welcome. However, this essay will look at the different family and household structures in the current century, also the diversity of families and understanding the reasons for this diversity and how structures have changed. It will draw theories…show more content…
The family is considered as the oldest institutions in society, as written in Stewart & Zaaiman (2014). The typical view of a family is two parents (heterosexual) and children, known as the nuclear family. This is and has been the most common family structure in history but is now under threat due to demand for other family structures. More family structures are evolving and family structures are becoming more diverse, due to factors such as, divorce, recognition of gay and lesbian marriages. In a nutshell it is just, more freedom of choice practiced, the family now has a variety of structures, like single parents, gay couples, and extended families. Murdock defined the family as “a social group characterised by common residence, economic co-operation 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” (1949). Murdock saw the…show more content…
Feminists also believe that the family is patriarchal and that women are suppressed and exploited. After the Second World War, in an attempt to get women out of the workforce, the ideal family image was promoted, also known as the ‘cereal packet’ image by Edmund Leach (1967). However, as society has changed and become more open, women are tackling the 'double weight' doing the housework and working in paid business outside the home (Gershuny et al. 1994; Hochschild 1989; Sullivan 1997). Diversity within the family is more prevalent today as family structures such as lone parents, same sex families (gay and lesbian) and reconstituted families become more acceptable. It has been suggested that increasing divorce rates and co-habitation have contributed to diversity within the family structure (Boh, 1989). It was extremely difficult to divorce up until the Divorce Reform Act was introduced in 1969 and came into effect in 1971, this then heralded a change of attitude towards divorce. Feminists believe that women should leave an unhappy marriage and say that the problem is that women are disillusioned with the traditional marriage as most divorce petitions are filed by women. In the past, women were trapped in unhappy marriages with very few options. With
Get Access