Just Sociology

Exploring the Complex Linkage Between Government Policies and Family Structure

The relationship between government policies and family structure is complex and dynamic. Changes in government policies can influence family structures and vice versa.

In this article, we discuss two main topics that explore the linkage between government policies and family structure the 1969 Divorce Act and the 2013 Civil Partnership Act, and demographic trends and childhood. We will analyze the theories behind these topics, including reconstituted families, single-parent families, negotiated families, extended families, beanpole families, sandwich parents, modified extended families, changing gender relations, gender roles, equality, children in the family, childless/adopted families, New Right, Postmodernism, Radical Feminism, march of progress, paranoid parenting, and cotton wool kids.

Government Policies and Family Structure

The 1969 Divorce Act

The 1969 Divorce Act was a landmark piece of government policy that liberalized divorce laws in England and Wales. Prior to this act, divorces could only be granted on the grounds of adultery, cruelty, or desertion.

The act introduced the concept of irretrievable breakdown, which allowed couples to divorce even if no fault could be attributed to either party. This act had a profound impact on family structure.

Reconstituted families, also known as stepfamilies, emerged as a novel form of family structure. Reconstituted families occur when two families merge after a divorce or separation, and one or both parents enter a new relationship with a different partner.

Negotiated families also emerged, which are families that are created through a series of conscious and deliberate negotiations between family members. Single-parent families also saw an increase as more women were granted the right to initiate a divorce.

These new forms of family structure were criticized by some groups. The New Right argued that the 1969 Divorce Act resulted in a decline in traditional family values and led to a breakdown of societal norms.

They argued that this new law enabled couples to trivialize marriage, and it resulted in the development of unstable families. Postmodernists, on the other hand, believed that the family structure should be flexible and should adapt to changing times.

They believed that reconstituted families and negotiated families were examples of families that responded to the changing demands of a dynamic society.

The 2013 Civil Partnership Act

The 2013 Civil Partnership Act introduced significant changes in the law of England and Wales with regard to same-sex marriage. The act enables same-sex couples to get married in a registry office, and it grants them the same rights and responsibilities as heterosexual couples.

This act had significant implications for family structure and gender relations in society. The act led to a change in gender roles within families as it granted same-sex couples the same legal rights to parenthood as heterosexual couples.

This meant that decisions regarding the upbringing of children would no longer necessarily involve questioning the roles of, or the level of involvement of, the biological father or mother. Additionally, the act allowed for equality in the treatment of same-sex and heterosexual couples in child adoption.

New Right advocates remained skeptical of the Civil Partnership Act, and argued that it would undermine traditional values and create a fragmented society while Radical Feminists argued that the act further perpetuated gender relations from traditional marriage perspectives.

Demographic Trends and Childhood

Life Expectancy and Family Structures

Life expectancy has increased, and families are becoming more complex. The result is the emergence of new family structures the beanpole family, sandwich parents, and extended families.

Beanpole families are families with multiple generations and extended family members, and they have a narrower family structure as the family tree grows vertically. Sandwich parents have to balance caring for their own young children while also caring for aging parents, which often puts them under mental and physical stress.

Extended families also see an increase, as several generations live together under one roof, which can lead to both a sense of security and stress. Modified extended families emerge, where blood-kin are replaced by non-blood-kin groups as key family members.

Decline in Number of Children

There has been a decline in the number of children born in the UK; families are now having fewer children than in the past. This trend can be attributed to the march of progress, where there is an increased focus on career advancement and social mobility.

Parents are also becoming increasingly paranoid and vigilant about the safety of their children, which has given rise to a phenomenon known as cotton wool kids where parents reduce children freedom due to fears of risk or harm.

Conclusion

In summary, the relationship between government policies and family structure is complex and dynamic; government policies can influence family structure, and vice versa. The 1969 Divorce Act led to new forms of family structure, while the 2013 Civil Partnership Act affected gender roles within families.

Demographic trends have also led to new family structures such as the beanpole family, sandwich parents, and modified extended families, and the paranoia of the parents of these families’ children due to fears of risk or harm is leading to negative consequences. Families must continue to evolve and adapt to changing social dynamics, and government policies must be devised to encourage this adaptation.

Expansion:

3: Postmodernism and Family Life

Postmodernism Views

Postmodernism is a movement that came about in the 20th century as a reaction to modernism. Postmodernism seeks to challenge the traditional views and norms of society and emphasizes that there are many different perspectives on societal structures.

Postmodernism argues that family structures are no longer fixed or stable and that they have become more diverse and individualistic. Scholars who have contributed to the postmodernism discourse include Allen and Crow, and Beck-Gernsheim.

Allen and Crows works revolve around the theme of family breakdown, they argue that family breakdown is not just the occurrence of divorce; instead, it is a phenomenon that affects every aspect of family life. They posit that family breakdown, therefore, occurs when there is a lack of social or emotional interactions among family members.

On the other hand, Beck-Gernsheim challenges the conventional views of family structures and raises the issue of extreme individualization. In her work, she stresses the importance of the individuals right to choose the family structure of their preference in the face of rapidly changing socio-cultural and economical factors that affect the traditional family structure.

She posits that people are now more likely to be involved in forming what she calls biographical family styles, and these styles will be diverse, and constantly changing. Criticisms of

Postmodernism Views

Despite its influence on the discourse of family studies, postmodernism views have not gone without criticism.

Notably, The Personal Life Perspective which is an alternative approach to postmodernism has criticized postmodernism for its over-generalization of family diversity. The Personal Life Perspective asserts that even though there are variations in family structures, they are still mainly based on nuclear family units.

The postmodernist view of extreme individuality has also been criticized for failing to take into account the structural inequalities and economic factors that can influence the decisions people make regarding family structures. For example, a lower-income earner might not have the luxury of choosing the family structure that they prefer as they may need to rely on extended families for social and financial support.

4: Exam Advice

Past Papers

One way to effectively prepare for exams is by going through past papers. Past papers provide an opportunity for students to familiarize themselves with the exam format and structure, as well as the type of questions that they are likely to encounter.

This information is valuable in helping students map out their revision strategy. For the family studies exam, students may refer to past papers such as the 2018 Education and Theory paper, the 2018 Crime and Theory paper, and the 2017 Families Section.

These papers can be found on the exam board website, and students should ensure that they attempt to answer the questions within the specified time limit.

Revision Bundle

A revision bundle should comprise revision notes, mind maps, exam practice questions, exemplar answers, essays, and essay plans. These resources will help students prepare for their exams by providing them with a comprehensive overview of the syllabus.

Revision notes should be succinct and easy to understand, and should serve as a summary of key concepts and theories discussed in class. Mind maps can be used to make the connection between different concepts and theories and help students visualize their interrelation.

Exam practice questions should aim to replicate the exam conditions, and should be timed to help students get used to working under pressure. Exemplar answers, essays, and essay plans should be used to help students understand the structure and flow of an essay.

They should be used to highlight the key points that need to be addressed, and the main arguments that need to be made in any given question. Students must use these resources in conjunction with revision notes and mind maps to create a more cohesive and comprehensive revision strategy.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the relationship between government policies and family structures has led to the emergence of new family structures such as reconstituted families, negotiated families, single-parent families, beanpole families, sandwich parents, modified extended families, and childless/adopted families. Additionally, postmodernism views have challenged the conventional views of family structures and have emphasized the importance of family diversity and individual choice.

Revision for exams should involve a comprehensive revision bundle consisting of revision notes, mind maps, exam practice questions, exemplar answers, essays, and essay plans alongside going through past papers to hone their exam skills. In conclusion, this article has explored the complex relationship between government policies, demographic trends, and postmodernism with respect to family structure.

Changes in government policies have led to the emergence of new family structures, while demographic trends have increased the diversity of family structures. Postmodernism has challenged the conventional views of family structures and has emphasized family diversity and individual choice.

It is important that we continue to explore these issues and adapt policies to support the changing dynamics of family structures in society.

FAQs:

Q: What is the impact of government policies on family structure?

A: Government policies can influence family structure and vice versa. The 1969 Divorce Act led to the emergence of reconstituted families, negotiated families, and single-parent families, while the 2013 Civil Partnership Act influenced the gender roles within families.

Q: What are the demographic trends in family structures? A: The demographic trends have led to the emergence of more diverse family structures such as the beanpole family, sandwich parents, extended families, and modified extended families.

Q: What are the criticisms of postmodernism views on family structures? A: The Personal Life Perspective (PLP) asserts that even though there are variations in family structures, they are still mainly based on nuclear family units.

The postmodernist view of extreme individuality has also been criticized for failing to take into account structural inequalities and economic factors that can influence the decisions people make regarding family structures. Q: What are the components of a good revision bundle?

A: A good revision bundle typically consists of revision notes, mind maps, exam practice questions, exemplar answers, essays, and essay plans. These resources help students prepare for their exams by providing them with a comprehensive overview of the syllabus.

Q: How can past papers help in exam preparation? A: Past papers provide an opportunity for students to familiarize themselves with the exam format and structure, as well as the type of questions that they are likely to encounter.

This information is valuable in helping students map out their revision strategy.

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