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The Second World War Sociology Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 1383 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The traditional family, also known as a nuclear family, dominates the society before the World War II. It is a social unit consisting of a pair of married couple in opposite gender and the children they born living together in a single place (Hughes and Fergusson, 2004, p.47). However, a modern family is difficult to be defined because there are diverse forms of family consisting, for example, single parent family and divorced family, they may consisting a pair of couple in same gender or a single parent who had divorced with their partners. Conservatives can be defined as an ideology of that the structure or the form of family should be remain unchanged and conserved (Hughes and Fergusson, 2004, p60); while feminism is a thinking started from the 1960s of equality which against the traditional UK family and the conservatives.

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Firstly, the gender roles had been change in the recent decades because of the war and had been affect the UK family structure. Before the World War II, men were recognized as the breadwinner and the women should responsible for the house and the children (Hughes and Fergusson, 2004, p.44). The statement shows that the general role of men were to work and were to connect with the external world for supporting the finance of the house and their partners, also they owned the authority for deciding and controlling; while women should stay indoor for serving the needs of husband and the elderly parents, also taking care and rising up children. The turning point is, during the war, men needed to fight in the frontline and left out from their work. Consequently, women needed to bear the workload not only in the military industry for the weapons used in the war but also the general posts in the society, even in the government. This show the gender roles started to be change and an ideology of “women can also work” and gender equality had been raise up due to this situation, which is an example of feminism. Women started to fight for economic independent and work outside by setting up organizations, for example Government Equalities Offices (2007) which responsible for leading and giving advice for forms of equality including gender equality, and demonstrating, the structure of the UK family had been change, women not only stay indoors but also go to work, not depending on men. Also, the responsibility of taking care children and elderly parents of women can interfere with paid employment and giving financial transfer respectively, (Harper, 2004) this allows more time and less housing burden to women for work, women are not necessary for staying in the house, the value of women responsibility also changed.

Secondly, the attitude of marriage had been change, the ideology of “marriage is for life” changed to late-marrying and divorcing. Office for National Statistic (2010) reported that, the number of marriage in the UK keep decreasing from 1950s, while the number of divorce and lone parents with dependent children in the UK keep increasing (ibid, 2012). In addition, number of co-habitation in UK was increase rapidly from the 1980s. (ibid, 2011) Furthermore, the sexual relation changed in the society, sex outside was now become more acceptable than in the golden age. For example, “Births outside marriage become a third of all births by the early 1990s” (Halsey, 1995). This illustrates that the attitude to marriage in the UK is not as important and necessary, compared to the golden age. Couples can easily divorce or remarriage and can keep not marrying by co-habitation which all these are affecting the fertility, childcare and child development, also the structure of the family (Harper, 2004). The thinking of the human right had been raise up: both men and women can divorce if they want and say out their wants, the example of feminism. It is not a must that a family should consist of married couples and children, but the form they want to have.

Finally, same-sex couples are recognised from the last decade but it is not a case in the golden age. In 2004 (BBC News), a law about civil partnership had been legislated, it opened the way of same-sex marriage and civil partnership no matter gay or lesbian marriage. Also, there is a first history of two men can be named as parents on a child’s birth certificate in April 2010. These politic activities changed the form and the structure of the UK family: it is not a must that parents in a family should be in opposite gender but in a same sex, same-sex couples had been given a chance to get the same right with married couples under the bill. According the report from the Office for National Statistics (2011), although majority of the British think same-sex relationship is always wrong in the 1990s, it totally changed after the bill had been legislated. This shows the ideology of feminism had changed the attitude of marriage: people have the right to choose who they loved with no gender barriers. Furthermore, the welfare, for example education, was provided to both men and women. Before the war, the role of housewife was taken by women because they could not receive education, this limited the chance of women for working outside due to they had no “knowledge”. According to the report from Office for National Statistics (2008), more men received education in the age of sixteenth to eighteenth than women in 1985. But there was a change, there was the same number of the gender receiving education in 1997 and there are more women enjoy education welfare than men in the recent decades. This shows the change of value and the example of feminism: both men and women can enjoy the welfare provided by the government, and widened the chance of women work outside, which is a cause of changing in the family.

However, there is still continuity in the family. Firstly, although women had the independence of their own economy and the right to go for work, men is still the head and has the main authority in the house; women are still responsible to the house works. A national survey done by Harris in 1984 (cited in Halsey, 1995) shows that, half of the adult proportion agreed that “The man in the house should be the main breadwinner, and the woman should be mainly responsible for looking after the home and children, even she works”. In addition, according to survey done by Office for National Statistic (2011), the proportions of part-time employees of women were significantly higher than the number of the men. These supported that although there is seems a change in the gender role, men are still dominating the house and the main responsibility of women did not change significantly in the UK family, they still emphasis on the house, and the shows the concept of conservatives.

Secondly, although there are diverse forms of family consisting in the UK, families are an important institution in society. No matter there are nuclear family; single parent family; or divorced family, and the existence of the family is still important and it is conserved due to the thinking of conservatives. Furthermore, although same-sex couple had been introducing in the family, the role of them are still being not change: maintain the stability in the house and support their life. These have not been change and being conserved.

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To conclude this essay, the conservatives and feminism are the reason of bringing continuity and changes respectively, these ideology have brought the continuity and changes to the UK family. Families are necessary for ordering the stability of the society no matter the time after the war or as peace as now. Although the nuclear family had been weakened, it still dominates the structure of the family and plays an important role in the society. Changes are necessary and important, but it must change in a natural and slowly way, otherwise it will bring chaos to the society and cannot reach the aim of stabling to UK. The society, on the second hand, should conserve the important thinking and cultural, but could not have absolutely no changes in the society, or the society may not get any improvement.

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