Essay On The Family Structure

Families are viewed by functionalists as a nuclear family structure, which are composed of a father, mother and approximated two children. According to Murdock in every society have a form of nuclear family structure, which are the majority type of family in every society that he investigated. However, family structure have gradually changed by several reasons, and different family’s structures have emerged in UK.
Functionalists such as Talcott Parsons, suggested that there are two important role within the family, called expressive and instrumental roles. The woman is the expressive role, and it means that she was the one who raised, disciplined, and educated family morals to the children. The father is the instrumental role, which means that is whom maintained the family financially, suggesting these are a segregated type of family, as they have separated conjugal roles. Parsons argued that this separated roles occurred naturally, and it is fundamental in order to have a well-structured family.
Young and Wilmott (1970) suggested that nuclear families become to have joint conjugal roles, leading to the development of a more symmetrical family structure, as men and women’s roles become more balanced, with similar roles. They believed this new family structure was developed within the middle class families, and extended to other family class such as working class, knowing as the principle of stratified diffusion. They research showed that couples commenced to share family decisions; and it also showed that the man started to stay more in the house, performing housework and looking after the children, where women began to leave the house to have a salaried job.
However, feminists has criticised the idea of symmetrical family, such as Ann Oakley. She believed that there are still existing a considerable difference in conjugal roles. She interviewed several mothers about their family’s relationship and their household roles; and the results showed that women still mainly responsible for the children and the housework, although some assumed that they have had a little amount of help from their partner. This research was supported by others feminists such as Boulton (1983), who also investigated symmetrical family and discovered that domestic division labour still unequal.
Margaret Benston (1972), a Marxist feminist, also believed that women are overloaded with jobs, and she named it as triple shift, which are the roles that women execute on the daily basis such as childcare, housework, paid job, and on the top of all of this, they have to deal and manage the emotional side of the family, acting as a therapists. This showed that all this effort that women put into the family are mainly beneficial to their husband, as he would have everything ready for him, such as clean clothes, ready meals and therefore he would be able to go out fresh, and successfully perform well at his job, and eventually leading to pay increase, as he do not have as much responsibilities as the woman still doing at home.
Consequently, woman have adopted feminist ideas and decide to reject tiring family’s roles, and from that onwards, family structure have changed even more. Laws such as the 1975 Equal Pay Law Act and Sex Discrimination was stablished, and the number of women going out to paid jobs have expanded. For this reason they become more independent financially and there was no more need to rely on husband financial earnings.
Furthermore, women was influenced, and supported by feminists, to divorce or to leave unsatisfied relationship Subsequently, this idea of independence have caused an increase on the numbers of divorce rates, and new family structures have emerged, such as reconstituted family. Reconstituted family structure is when a single parent try to build a new family, with another person that may even have had children, and they raise their children together. Nowadays it has become the most popular family structure in UK.
Over the years, a diversity of family structures have developed, and some of the possible reasons that facilitates those new trends, a part of the financial independence, are the changes on divorce laws. This legal changes collaborate and simplify legal proceedings, such as legal aid act and divorce law reform act. As result, people have more access to divorce, and encouraged to leave failed relationships, such as empty shell marriages, as there were no love between them, but simply other reasons that kept them together, such as the children or financial dependence, and in consequence more family structure emerged. Singletons is also another family structure that have surged as result of divorce, which means that when someone decide, or have to go and live alone. The majority of this type of family structure are constituted by males. However, New Right supporters have linked divorce laws to the reasons of the high rate of family breakdowns, because individuals are not devoted to their family as their used to be
Postmodernists see diversity in family structure and consumer choices, as factors that indicates that the society have acquired more choices and freedom. Individuals are not judged as before if they do not live in a traditional family structure, as people’s acceptance have expanded towards new ideas and beliefs, which has led to new laws and rights, in order to support and protect every family, making them equally respected. Postmodernist Beck-Gernsheim (2002) argued that family diversity are the replacement of family traditions and marriages expectations, as people do not feel obligated to follow traditional ideas. The result of this change are the increase of divorce, birth outside marriage, and new different family structures such as same sex family, or cohabitation, which means people that live with someone without being married. However, this have been criticised and disagreed by others that believe that family diversity become extremely, and they believe that basic family traditions still intact by the majority of the society.
Childhood has also been affected over the years. Phillipe Aries believed that childhood is a process of development, as in the middle age it did not exist. Children were treated from an early age, such as seven, in the same way as an adult. In the twenty century, people recognised that children were not emotionally and physically strong as an adult, resulting in the decline of child mortality, as their living standards began to improve. Therefore, children’s laws has been stipulated in order to protect them, such as Prevention of Cruelty to Children Act 1889; Children’s Act 1989, which refers to the right to choose which parent they want to live with if they divorce, and 1991 Child Support Act, which demands the absent parent to provide financial contribution. Children also become more family centred. However, Melanie Phillipes argues that the parents are slowly losing their authorities over their child, as the children’s right have given a considerable amount of power to the children. This result in their innocence been taken away with it; as they are in many cases using those rights in order to threat their parents; instead of being motivated to respect their parent’s authority. Adding to that, she argues that the mass media have more influence and effect on the child’s behaviour compared to their parent’s advice, and that they are not prepared and mature enough to understand it. On the other hand, this has been criticised for example by Morrow, whom suggested that generalised conventional approaches do not allow the children to be aware of the dangerous that they can be exposed in the real world.
Postman, also believes that the media are ending with today’s childhood, by facilitating them to enter into the adult word at an early age. Nonetheless, David Brooks has criticised it, suggesting that this view was exaggerated and parents has become extremely protective, controlling their child, taking away the child’s own common sense and awareness to what is surrounded them.
Britain become a multicultural country as result of international migration. The increase in the ethnicity variety has brought a huge influence on British culture and family traditions. Asian families are more likely live in extended families, whether Afro-Caribbean tend to form lone parent families. In consequence, mixed race marriages has influenced and changed family traditions in Britain, such as the increase of extended families, where more than one family generation live together.
In conclusion, there are a variety of reasons and influences that have modified and increased the variety of family structure in UK. Postmodernists argued that relationships are based on voluntary individual’s commitment. Interactionists such as Clark, suggested that one relationship is different from the other, and some couples are encountering difficulties, and living day after day, without setting any direction. Furthermore, families become diverse and multicultural, and are all influenced by their immediate surroundings through society, media, learning and work environment, and social interactions have a strong effect on relationships roles, resulting in the increase of the variety in family roles and structures in UK.

* Family Structure

Family structure simply refers to the diversity of types of family unit composition. Basically the term 'family' mostly portrays the conventional family unit which consist of biological parents and children, commonly known as nuclear family, there are some other family structure are also common which include single-parent family or even couple-only family. Other family types include couple with no children, living alone and extended family structure including cohabiting relatives.

The distribution of such family structures vary country to country with the proportions of couple-only families and single parent families with dependent children increasing, And proportion of couple families with children have decreased, especially those with dependent children. Between the year 1991 and 2000, there was a prominant decrease in number of nuclear family units with an increase in single parent family units in the USA, and this similar trend was observed in Australia also between 1976 and 2001. For the time period between 1979 and 1998, there was a decline in number of couples with dependent children from 31 to 23% and an increase from 4 to 7% in single parent families in the UK. In Japan, there was an increase in single-person households from 1990 to 2005. The trend in family structures in developing countries are also varying, with extended family structures being replaced by nuclear families resulting in increases in number of elderly people living alone.

Increases in single and couple-only family structures have been observed worldwide, not only in developed but also in developing countries. In 1991, 51.1% of North American family households had no one under 18 living with them. The 1993 Basic Survey on National Life by the Ministry of Health and Welfare reported that childless families accounted for 65 percent of all families in Japan. The increase in 'alone' and 'couple only' family types is synonymous with the increase in aging population and decline fertility rate experienced in many countries with increases in delaying marriage.

* Education

Marks, Gary 1990 "Ascription and achievement: Trends in Australian education" Australian and New Zealand Journal of Sociology (

Educational Trends

Educational levels have risen rapidly over the 20th century, continuing the trends noted in prior research (Broom et al. 1980; Evans and Kelley 1995; Marks, Ganzeboom, and Zagorski 1995):

  1. On average, Australians born before 1930 -- who would mostly have been in school in the 1930s and 1940s -- achieved 9.3 years of education (table 1). Only 22 percent of them persisted to finish year 12 at school. Of those few who finished year 12 in school, just 27 percent on to complete unversity, so in all just 6% of the age cohort completed university.

  2. The average number of years of education completed rose to 10.0 years for those born in the 1930s. 27% completed year 12 and 8% finished university.

  3. Educational levels rose to 10.9 years for those born in the 1940s, with 37% completing year 12 and 14% finishing university.

  4. Those born in the 1950s -- who would have been getting their education in the 1960s and 1970s -- did even better, getting 11.7 years on average. 47% completed year 12 and 20% completed university. Mid-life attendance at university became increasingly common in these years, so a fair few them would have first left school for some years but later returned as adults to continue their education (Evans 1993).

  5. As for those born since 1960, average educational levels rose to 11.9 years. For the first time in Australian history, more than half , 55%, finished secondary school. No less than 21% finished university (and some unknown further number will later return to finish university as "mature-age" students).

The total change in average educational levels over this period is a gain of 2.6 years: on average, people born since 1960 have about two and one half years more education than did people born before 1929. Correspondingly, the percentage completing secondary school has risen 33% (from 22% to 55%) over the same period. The percentage of university graduates has risen 15% over the period (from 6% to 21%).

Why are Australians Better Educated Now than in the Past?

Many things have changed over the course of the course of the 20th century. Perhaps the most conspicuous changes in Australia, as in most Western nations, has been the growth of cities, the sharp decline in family size, and economic growth. All of these are implicated in educational change (table 2).

We estimate the size of their impact on years of schooling by ordinary least squares regression (following the methods of Alwin and Hauser) and the impact on finishing year 12 and finishing university by similar methods based on logistic regression (see appendix).

Urbanization. The 'push' of declining farm and rural employment and the 'pull' of high-paying skilled jobs in the cities have led to an exodus from the land and the rapid growth of cities. In this, Australia is like most modern nations. Schooling has always been more easily available in urban places, so this change alone has increased educational levels. Our regression estimates show that between 5% and 7% of the change over the century is due to urbanization (table 2, line 2).


* income

    In the twelve months to May 2009, full-time adult total earnings rose by 5.6% for males and 5.0% for females.
Full-time adult ordinary time earnings rose by 6.5% for males and 5.2% for females in the twelve months to May 2009.


From the August 2009 issue of this publication, industry statistics will be presented on the basis of the new edition (2006) of the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC). An Information Paper: Changes to Average Weekly Earnings, Australia ( will be released on 5 November 2009, describing the major changes to Average Weekly Earnings.

This issue is the last release of industry data on the basis of the 1993 edition of ANZSIC.

For further details see paragraphs 10 to 13 of the Explanatory Notes.



Movements in average weekly earnings can be affected by both changes in the level of earnings per employee and changes in the composition of the labour force. For example, changes in the proportions of full-time, part-time, casual and junior employees and variations in the distribution of occupations can affect movements in earnings series. Refer to paragraphs 23 and 24 of the Explanatory Notes.


For information on sampling error see the Technical Note at the end of this publication. Standard errors for the original estimates contained in this publication are in tables 18 to 20.


For further information about these and related statistics, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070 or Tony Carolan on Perth (08) 9360 5304.


* family size

Changes in Family Size.

In Australia, like most of the the Western countries, fertility levels fluctuated in the early decades of the 20th century, peaked in the post-war 'baby boom' and then it continuous declined in recent decades to its current level of around two children per couple. In Australia large families are seems to be an educational disadvantage, as in most nations. probably the reason is parents who have large families need to divide their money, time and energy over a large number of children in contrast parents who have small families can provide more time, energy, resources and offer more help to each child. So decline in fertility in recent decades will in the normal course of things rise educational attainment.

Our estimates depicts that the reduction in family size has accounted for 4% or 5% of the growth in years of schooling and completion of year 12 in school. Thatswhy it increased year 12 completion, and more of those who finish year 12 will decide to go on to university, So in that way this also indirectly increased university education, by about 3%. However, once students have completed year 12, after coming from a large family is now no longer a noticeable disadvantage, so changes in fertility do not account for any noticeable part of the growth in university completion among year 12 graduates

The average household size in Australia is projected to decline from 2.6 people per household in 2001 to between 2.4 and 2.5 people per household in 2015. Australia's household size (2.5) in 2011 is projected to be smaller than New Zealand (2.6) and Japan (2.6), the same as the United States of America (2.5) and Canada (2.5), and larger than England (2.2).

multicultural segment

* population
On 10 October 2009 at 10:51:20 PM (Canberra time), the resident population of Australia is projected to be:



Since 30 June 2007, Australia's estimated resident population (ERP) reached 21.4 million at 30 June 2008, increasing by 359,300 people. The 2007-08 growth rate of 1.7% was more than the average annual growth rate of 1.5% for the five years to June 2008.

All states and territories experienced population growth in 2007-08 with the largest population increases continuing to be recorded in Australia's three most populous states.

* Queensland experienced the greatest growth (up by 97,900 people),

* Victoria expreienced the second (92,500)

And New South Wales (79,200).

For last two consecutive years, Western Australia witnessed the fastest population growth rate, which was 2.8% in 2007-08, above of Queensland and the Northern Territory (both 2.3%) and Victoria (1.8%). The remaining states and territories had population growth rates below the Australian average, and Tasmania experiencing the slowest growth at 0.9%.

In every territory and state, population growth generally continued to be most prominent in outer suburbs, inner cities area, some urban infill areas and along the coast; in contrast to populations declined in some inland, rural areas, particularly those that have been affected by drought in the last some years.

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