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Sociology family exam Cheat Sheet by

Sociology revision for the A level in 2021

Key terms

Nuclear family
A husband and wife and their children who live together in the same household
Cohabiting couples
Couples who are not married by live together.
Ideology of the nuclear family
The argument that the nuclear family is the best family type for indivi­duals and society as a whole
Cereal packet family
An idea developed by Leach – he used this term to demons­trate that the media portrays the nuclear family as the ideal through advert­ising and TV programs.
Dark side of the family
The negative aspects of the family e.g. abuse, inequality etc.
Child-­centred families
Increa­singly children are places at the centre of the family and given more status­/de­cision making power.
Extension of childhood
The argument that childhood has been extended, possibly because young people now have to stay in education for longer and parents have more income to spend on them.

Views on the family

Nuclear family - Good
New Right
Nuclear family - Good
Nuclear family - serves capitalism
Radical feminists
Very bad - exploits women
Liberal feminists
nuclear family - OK
Marxist feminist
Similar to Marxists
Unlikely in society

Key research

Parsons (1951)
The nuclear family performs two essential functions, including; social­isation of children and stabil­isation of adult person­alities (with males adopting the instru­mental role and females adopting the expressive role). He also argued that nuclear families are better for industrial society which might require families to be more mobile –to move for work.
Grant (2006)
Men are increa­singly likely to bring up someone else’s children whilst their own are brought up elsewhere.
Beaujouan & Bhrolchain (2011)
argue – cohabi­tation before marriage has become the norm. Couples also live together for longer before getting married.
ONS (2014)
Marriage is declining
the media promotes the nuclear family as the ideal – on TV progra­mmes, adverts etc.
functions of the family; primary social­isa­tion, education, emotional function, reprod­uctive function, sexual function
Palmer (2007)
toxic childhood – children are being fed a diet of junk food, excessive exposure to violence and porn and a lack of love and discipline due to parents being forced to work long hours.
Furedi (2001)
paranoid parenting – parents are now terrified of risk and harm to their children – this can lead to helicopter parenting where parents fuss over their children and restrict their lifestyles
Cunningham (2007)
The home habitat of children has shrunk to 1/9th of the size it was 25 years ago as children’s movements are restri­ctied.
Bhatti (1999)
Asian children are bought up more strictly than white British childr­en-with more emphasis on family honour.
Barn (2006)
ethnic minority groups – Pakistani, Bangla­deshi and black families are more likely to grown up in poverty, affecting their experi­ences of childhood.

Trends in marriage

- UK society is moving away from marriage to serial monogamy
- Because of secula­ris­ation religious marriages are decreasing
- Entry into marriage is being postponed

Trends in cohabi­tation

- Cohabi­tation is now more accepted but was seen as a sin in the past
- Most couples who cohabit go on to marry
- In the last 20 years, cohabi­tation outside of marriage has doubled

Perspe­ctives about family diversity

Negative - The nuclear family is universal and performs 4 main functions
New Right
Very negative - Hetero­sexual nuclear families underp­inned by marriage is the ideal family type
Positive - The nuclear family functions to serve capitalism
Radical feminism
Very positive - The nuclear family is rooted in patriarchy and taught to children through gender role social­isation
Marxist feminism
Radical + Marxists
Very positive - The greater variety of choices and freedoms that charac­terise a postmodern society has led to greater diversity and fluidity in the form families now take


- Sociol­ogists believe childhood and adoles­cences is a social constr­uction or a set of social attitudes. Childhood varies across societies, cultures, places and historical time periods
- Sociol­ogists argue until the mid-19th century children weren't treated as special and worked alongside adults
- In 1880, education became compulsory which prevented children from working and that modern childhood is a 20th century invention

Childhood diversity

Girls may be more strictly brought up
Class + Ethnicity
Barn (2006): Children from ethnic backgr­ounds may experience similar depriv­ation to white workin­g-class children
Upper-­class children may spend most of their childhood in boarding schools away from home

Childhood and power

- Children have limited opport­unity to earn money and therefore, rely on parents more
- Laws give parents control over their children
- Parents control children's respon­sib­ilities and the speed they grow up


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