Understanding society: Families
Understanding society: Families

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Understanding society: Families

2 Changing family forms

2.1 The diversity of family life today

Before concluding our discussion of the division of labour it is very important that we recognise that families today come in many different forms and shapes. During the past fifty years, in particular, family life has become increasingly diverse. Today family life may mean a household consisting of a married mother, father and their children; or unmarried mother and father with their children. It may mean a family with just one parent, a family made up of a couple and their children from previous relationships, or a same sex couple with children (either from a previous relationship, adopted or by sperm donation). This is a significant change from the 1950s when the majority (though not all) families consisted of two parents and their offspring. Not everyone welcomes this change. If you continue with further studies in the social sciences you will become aware of the range of views that exist on family life. But here we would like you to think of this diversity in terms of the greater choice it gives people; and most importantly the very positive consequences for those who have had unhappy experiences of the 1950s type of family life.

Figure 5
All photographs copyright © Suki Dhanda ©
All photographs copyright © Suki Dhanda
Figure 5 Twenty first century families: lesbian parents, a step family, older parents and a single father
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