Outline and evaluate postmodern views on the diversity of family life” Postmodern sociologists support the view that family has become diverse in contemporary UK. They see that people have become fragmented and identities are more individualistic, meaning everyone is different and let them be. Family life is different for everyone. Stacey (1996) says that the family no longer progresses through a range of stages. Meaning everyone is diverse, and that there is no longer a dominant type of family. This is similar to the Rapoports view of stage in life cycle diversity.
Which says family life is different for newly-married couples who do not have children than for those who do have children. The key to the postmodern view of the family is choice. As times have moved on, people are looked down upon less for certain things and therefore have less of a threat to act upon their choices. Single parent families for example. As 40 years ago, the nuclear family was the norm.
One person caring for the children by themselves was frowned upon, as people thought this person could not provide as well as 2 parents could, economically and emotionally and domestically.
This is where choice comes in. Roles are now much more negotiable. This is demonstrated clearly in gay and lesbian relationships. There are 2 people of the same sex, therefore roles are very negotiable. There is no way of following traditional roles, so it’s peoples choice of which role they take on to provide for the family. For example both men may go to work, while a nanny is caring for a child. Then they may both come home, and take care of different domestic chores. This is Waters (1996) argument, which says it’s a matter of choice in the contemporary UK.
Within class boundaries and cultural diversity, postmodernists would deconstruct the view that middle-class families bring up their family one way, and working-class families do it another. With different norms and values involved. Postmodernists would disagree, as not all working-class families are the same for example. Some may share the stereotypical middle-class views and visa-versa. Lewis (2001) sees that New labour has adopted a view similar to Postmodernists, where it has altered and developed an approach to flexible, diverse and even contradictory policies.
It is clear in its policies that it accepts that it supports the fact that “women increasingly want to work and have careers as well as being mothers”. There is no attempt to force women back into the home. This shows moving forward and their understanding of the new family structures in today’s society. Allan and Crow, noticed the factors of living in lone parent households. There has been an increase in divorce. This is because it is less frowned upon, and easier to do now. And there more of a secular society therefore, marriage vows are not taken as seriously, forever does no longer mean forever.
Making it easier for divorce and the lone parent structure to develop. On the other hand the postmodernist view on diversity of family life can be evaluated with functionalist and new right views. The new right view for example is similar to functionalism. In the way which they see the nuclear family, being the norm a while back and the ideal family structure. New right is critical of other types of family, single parent and gay and lesbian families for example. And also have a negative view of family diversity.
They feel that single parent families can not efficiently bring up a child, with only one parent on the scene. They undermine their ability of providing for the family as well as a nuclear family would be able to. Bianca in Eastenders would be an example for this view. We see her struggling to find work, therefore unable to efficiently provide for her family economically. She does not have enough time for all of her children, so therefore not providing full emotional gratification. Functionalists may say this is why her eldest son Liam turned to a gang and committed crime.
This links with Dennis (1993) view, whereby he says that boys who do not have male role models, may turn to delinquent behaviour. Some new right thinks regard these single parents as the ‘underclass’ seeing them as ‘work-shy’ and ‘benefit scroungers’. Also as them having short-term sexual relationships, and having children with men who do not see their offspring as their responsibility. All negative views of this type of family structure. Functionalists say the nuclear family is best, as the woman needs to be there, to provide the family with emotional gratification, and take care of the domestic labour, also the warm bath theory.
Whereby, she runs the man a warm bath when he comes home from a stressful day at work, in order to make him relax with the family and wine down. And the man in the nuclear family, provides the economic support. Whilst new labour gives the impression they support differing family structures, it still gives negative views on most families that are not the nuclear family. They see teenage pregnancy, as a social problem, which is against diversity. As this is diverse in the way that, different people have different stages in life cycle.
Where teenage pregnancies, are having children earlier than others. Duncan (2006) challenges the assumptions of New Labour that teenage pregnancy is a social problem. He says new labour have not dealt with wider structural aspects of social disadvantage. New labour is criticised for being contradictory. It acknowledges that families have changed, but still promotes marriage and conventional families as the best way forward. This means although they sugar coated their policies as supporting diverse family structures, that they are one sided, and still have in mind that the nuclear family is best.
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