AS Sociology

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The Rapoports: five types of family diversity

Rhona and Robert Rapoport (1982) argue that diversity is of central importance in understanding family life today.Unlike the New Right, the Rapoports see diversity as a response to people's different needs and wishes, and not as abnormal or a deviation from the assumed norm of the nuclear family.

They identify the following five different types of family diversity in Britain today:

  • Organisational diversity-the different ways in which families are organised
  • Cultural diversity-different cultural, religious and ethnic groups have different family structures.
  • Social Class Diversity-differences in family structure and partly the result of income differences between households of different classes.
  • Life stage diversity-Family structures differ according to the stage reached in the life cycle.
  • Generational diversity-older and younger generations have different attitudes and experiences that reflect the different historical periods in which they have lived.
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The New Right

The New Right believe the traditional nuclear family as self reliant and capable of caring for its members.

They are also very criticial of existing government policies such as the generous welfare benefits system.

Charles Murray (1984) argues that these benefits offer 'perverse incentives'.

For example if fathers see the state will maintain their children, some of them will abandon their reponsibilities to their families.

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The New Right (continued)

The New Right argue that government policies create a dependency culture by which people become reliant on state aid.

They argue that cuts in the welfare state and tighter restrictions in who is eligible for benefits are the only solution.

The New right also believe policies to support the traditional nuclear family such as taxes that favour married couples and a child agency whose main role is to make absent fathers financially responsible for their children.

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The New Right (continued again)

The New Right have however been criticised on several counts:

  • Feminists argue that it is an attempt to justify the return to the traditional patriarchal family.
  • It wrongly assumes that the patriarchal nuclear family is natural rather than socially constructed.
  • Cutting benefits would simply drive many poor families into even greater poverty.
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Jaydee Hervey


Anything for households?

Jaydee Hervey


Anything for households?

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