Family Structure Trends in Europe Essay

Family Structure Trends in Europe Essay

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The implication for social policy as a result of the changing face of
the ‘family’ has been enormous. In order to evaluate them
adequately, I shall look at 4 main transitory factors which have had,
and are continuing to have, implications for social policy,
specifically within Europe. These are: Downward trend in marriages,
the rise in single parent/lone parent families, increasing
participation of women in the workforce and their consequent
economical success, and the incessantly declining rate of fertility.

The notion of family thirty years ago was relatively simple. A
married couple, two children, an extended family in the form of
grandparents and even a pet were seen as constituting the norm. One
of the main factors that influenced the fragmentation of this image,
in Britain at least, was the introduction of The Divorce Reform Act in
1969 (Glennester, pg 163). The immediate period after the introduction
of this law, brought on by considerable pressure from feminists in the
1960s period of liberalism, witnessed a sudden influx in the number of
women abandoning their marriages in search of bigger and better
things. Married couples were increasingly becoming separate
entities, and, over time, this pattern has altered to an extent that
marriage is now losing its hold as an important social institution.
Lewis (1992 In: Glennester Howard:British Social Policy since 1945 pp
164) made use of the Male Breadwinning Model to depict the belief
system upon which social policies were initially formed; women were
dependent upon the male, unlikely to participate in the labour work
force after marriage and likely to remain in the domest...

... middle of paper ... policies. The rising irregularities in family
life can also be seen as a result of the contradictions
within existing policies. Whereas on the one hand the state urges its
members to show increasing participation in the labour force, it also
encourages the maintenance of the traditional notions of 'family.'
This requires females to remain at home and men to dominate in the
financial domain, a lifestyle which is unlikely; financial
requirements of raising children are now are so high that it
needs dual work, which in turn increases individualisation, one
primary reason the state is in a frenzy with regards to childcare.
What is required is a balance between the two variations; the
traditional and the new, but whether social policy can incorporate
the new 'fluctuating' family into it's make up remains to be seen.

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