Theories of the family: The Personal Life Perspective

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  • The development of families and relationships is complex
    • Theories of the family: The Personal Life Perspective
      • Evaluations
        • Criticisms
          • It takes on a too broad definition of the family
        • Positive
          • Recognises that people are active in constructing family lives
      • Criticises previous perspectives
        • Criticises Functionalism and Marxism for making generalisations about family life which do not fit the realities of the society we live in today
          • Their focus on the nuclear family with fixed traditional gender roles does not recognise the complexity of contemporary family life
        • Also criticises Giddens, Beck's postmodern theory of influenced by traditions or norms when they make these decisions
          • People are not entirely free to decide for themselves how to shape their families, and their family relationships
      • Major contribution: the family is not the only significant relationship in people's lives
        • Their identity or senses of belonging comes from other meaningful relationships
          • Subcultures/ gangs may be regarded as family
          • Dead relatives may be regarded as part of the family
          • Gay and lesbian 'chosen' families offer emotional and maybe financial support
          • Pets may be seen as more significant than unclear aunts
          • Close friends may be trusted as 'Fictive kin'
    • The families and roles that people are constructing have an element of individual choice, but the choices that people are making are maintained by a social construct in three ways:
      • Firstly, people are embedded in their past experiences of family history
      • Secondly, the expectations of the society they presently live in
      • Thirdly, people are subject to structural factors such as social class, ethnic and gender inequalities


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