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Family Fluidity




Slide 1

Family Fluidity

Family Fluidity

Family ideology and legislation

Based on the work of Bren Neale, Leeds University

Sociology at NSG

Slide 2

The Indissoluble family Early C20th

The Indissoluble family Early C20th


Life-long monogamy

Sex role segregation

Father-right (if mothers left husbands, they lost their children)

Slide 3

The Companionate Family 1950s

The Companionate Family 1950s

Wives companions (not slaves) to husband and children

Greater emphasis on personal fulfilment

Women work for ‘pin’ money

Birth control for planning children within marriage

Higher expectations of marriage

Divorce rare and stigmatised

Slide 4

The Reconstituted Family 1970s

The Reconstituted Family 1970s

’69 Divorce Reform Act allowed for a ‘clean break’ for re-marriage

Those ‘living in sin’ could now more easily divorce and ‘re-tie the knot’

Stepfather’s position overrode that of the biological father

Biological father’s financial responsibilities to first family not legally enforced

Unsuccessful marriages could be replaced by successful ones

Slide 5

The Biological Family Late C20th

The Biological Family Late C20th

Biological ties rather than marital ties

Shared responsibility for childcare and economic support

Based on ‘two earner model’ instead of ‘marital support’ model

Encourages active fathering by biological parent

Parenthood supersedes marriage as bedrock of the family

Slide 6

Family Practices DHJ Morgan (1996)

Family Practices DHJ Morgan (1996)

‘Families are what families do’

How people ‘do’ marriage, cohabitation, parenting, kinship

Heterosexual or same sex

May or may not involve co-residence

Focus on practices rather than structures

Slide 7

Family Fluidity Today

Family Fluidity Today

Traditional nuclear families are a minority lifestyle choice

Change, fluidity and transformation characterise contemporary families

We need to reconsider what we mean by ‘normal’ family life

Should we celebrate change or see it as a cause for concern?


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