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Factors Affecting Family Dynamics Sociology Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 1458 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The family was categorically defined and empirically grasped as the “nucleus of society” and the pillar of the sate order (Beck & Beck-Gernsheim, 2004). The recognized performed functions of the family are imitation of new members and socializing them, and stipulation of physical and emotional care for young and older persons. Family in fact, is an institution which resolves or eases a huge amount of collective problems (Giele, 2009; Hughes & Stone, 2003).

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Until 1960s, there was a generally accepted model of the family in Western societies, one to which people’s lives approximated more or less closely according to their material circumstances, social class, religion, region and so on. This normal family consisted of an adult couple and their own children; the adult were a man and a women, never of the same sex; they were married and remained so until death did them part; and they operated a kind of sharp gendered division of labor whereby the mothers at home, ideally giving affection and emotional support, and fathers out in the work force supporting their families (Beck & Beck-Gernsheim, 2004).

New trends affecting families

Everyone recognized that families had changed. Divorce rates had risen dramatically. More women were in the labor force. Evidence on rising teenage suicides, high rates of teen births, and disturbing levels of addiction and violence had put children at risk (Giele, 2009). Post modernity has changed our values but all these seem so normal to most wealthy societies, yet separation between couple not only negatively affects them but also children, relatives and friends. This higher degree of breakup of families put downed a social stigma upon the society and families might well become more fragmented.

Conservatives believe that these problems can be traced to a culture of toleration and an expanding welfare state that undercut self-reliance and community standards while the liberals opined that these problems are surfaced on the disappearance of manual jobs that throws less educated men out of work and undercuts their status in the family as well as rising hours of work among the middle class that makes stable two-parent families more difficult to maintain. However feminist vision combines both the reality of human interdependence in the family and individualism of the work place (Giele, 2009).

Social transformation by industrialization, urbanization, educational expansion demographic change, and monetization has altered the structure of family relationships in important ways. New patterns of marriages emerged superseding arranged marriages. A tendency on the part of younger generations, to overlook the consent of the “procreated” family for conduct of sexual behaviour; premarital pregnancy, single parenthood, divorce and remarriage gained ground in most countries, especially in the Western World (Beck & Beck-Gernsheim, 2004). This situation poses a strong potential to change the attitudes, particularly of the younger generation, who experience and experiment with the changes, causing a pattern of delayed marriage. A resultant outcome is the decline in birth rate. Another issue arising out of such situations is the absence of a legal heir for property if one of the partners met with an accident.

The overall increase in divorces almost in every region of the world from the 1960’s is another important development in the demographic sphere (Skolnick, 2009). Two major reasons can be identified for this trend. New legislation had been enacted making the procedures associated with the act of divorce easier, to meet the newly emerging economic and development needs (Beck & Beck-Gernsheim, 2004). Economic empowerment of women through employment tended to loosen their bonds to the patriarchal family and gave them the taste of economic independence. Women experienced a greater confidence to discontinue a bad relationship with a married partner (Skolnick, 2009).

Rising in divorce rates also imply that the number of single parent families also increases. This situation severely affects the socio-economic conditions of families with children which mean that security, education and welfare of these children would hardly be met. Most frequently single parent families are headed by women (Giele, 2009).

Another thing is that the ‘new’ family life became much more home centered in various senses. The house had become a more pleasant place and people now had increased means with which to make themselves comfortable (Beck & Beck-Gernsheim, 2004). Intra family relationship within the wider kin group was becoming less significant and the nuclear family household increased its importance.

Recent changes in family structures and dynamics of community

Strong families are the foundation of strong communities; therefore, the changes that have occurred in family life are seen as a threat to the quality of community life (Hughes & Stone, 2003). In this context, three trends are overwhelmingly changing the nature of our society. Firstly, the rise of individualism in early 1960, which calls upon individuals to live a “life of their own,” beyond the link to the family or society, and, indeed, actually urge them to break free of such ties and to act without regard for them. So the preference of one’s own needs became the derivative factor for selfishness (Beck & Beck-Gernsheim, 2004).

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Secondly, there has been the persistent increase of the market into every component of society. The widespread sense of the market is no more of just neoliberals’ ideology, but all of us, which has domino effects in both the public and the private sphere. The mantra of self, inextricably intertwined with the gospel of the market, has taken over the fabric of our lives and has released us from the pre-given ties, social relations (Beck & Beck-Gernsheim, 2004).

Thirdly, the increase development of communication technologies, particularly Internet and the mobile phones, which are eliminating our personal time, reducing our private space and increasing the pace of life (Beck & Beck- Gernsheim, 2004). Our relationships may be more multinational but they are progressively more short-lived.

The Concept of family for 21st century

In the relationship between parents and children, and between partners, family is the central place of intimacy. Intimacy is a job of time and durability that is placed on sympathy and unconditionality and entrenched in trust. As such, it is the contrast of the values produced by the current economic race.

At the beginning of the 21st century, the understanding of man and woman in their joint relationship, of family life and of the destiny of mankind has already entered a very complex stage. Notions such as family and household can no longer be understood in as simple a manner as they once were. The whole question of who is a family member now raises substantial issues that were of minor consequence two generation ago. For example, when does a cohabiting partner become a member of your family, and when does he or she become a member of your children’s, your parents’, or your siblings’ families? (Allan, Hawker & Crow, 2001).

According to White (1998), if we are to acknowledge non institutionalized family forms created by rising rates of non marital fertility, cohabitation, divorce, and remarriage then we need to recognize that family structure has a larger subjective component than we have accorded it (White, 1998). But what does it mean when, on the one hand, politicians invoke “family values,” motherhood, and fatherhood but, on the other hand, demand and solemnly promise that everyone should be constantly and generally available on the labor market – a labor market, that offers ever fewer protected areas and long – term guarantees and then defining family through caregiving patterns (Beck & Beck-Gernsheim, 2004).


An accelerated creation of nuclear families occurred with the process of industrialization brought considerable changes in family and demographic beliefs and values, dramatic declines in childbearing and marriage, major increases in non marital cohabitation placing the notion of family at risk. Therefore, there is a need to identify various problems that emerged due to the changes in functions and the structure of the family unit. Reduction of emotional and physical support by the family would directly affect the personality development of children and their health.


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