Sociology Of The Family Argumentative Essay Sample
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As years pass by, it also brings change. They said that change is the only constant thing in the world. A change on how people live their lives is also evident, especially on the roles that people play in the society. In particular, the roles of mothers and fathers in a family have changed, together with the changes in the society where they live.
This paper will provide an argument on the changing roles of the mother and father in a modern world, how this change affects the relationship among each member of the family, what the reasons are behind this change, and how the role of a family shapes the outlook of parents who do not adhere to the conventional father/breadwinner and mother/housewife model. This paper will begin by defining a family in the times past and the family in the today’s time. Afterwards, it will discuss the reasons for the change in the roles of the father and mother in a family. It will also include the function of parents on how their children will look at their future family and their position in the society.
The family in the modern times has undergone many modifications in their function as well as in the key roles that each member play. Coontz indicated that by the late 14th century, the English word family was derived from a Latin word for a household, which included the servants and slaves. This implied that all those who lived under the authority of a household head belonged to a family (42). Among the European nobility, the word family has another definition.. In particular, it referred to a parent-child grouping with a larger descent of a bigger family, with claims of privilege and property (Coontz, 43). Corbett explained that generally, there are two types of family, which are the nuclear and the extended family (Corbett 2). A nuclear family consists of the mother, father, and children who are linked by blood. On the other hand, an extended family consists of the mother, father, children, the parents of either the wife or the husband, and other people who are considered beyond their blood relations (Corbett 3).
In the book of Parsons and Bales, they explained that there were many changes in the social structure of the family. These include the high rate of divorce, the changes in the older sex morality, and the decline of birth rates as a result of disorganization. One consideration, which is linked to this is the “loss of function” of the family. This means that the needs in a family are fulfilled by an outside agency and not by the heads of the family. The change of a character has been going on for quite some time like the involvement of the serious disorganization of character.
Let us have an example of the disorganized character on the part of a man. In the explanation of Mills, men try to understand what is going on n the world and understand what is happening in them. Mills added that men want to be self-conscious that they often think that they can provide enough summation, cohesive assessments, and comprehensive orientation. Men acquire new way of thinking; they experience the evaluation of their values and reflect on the sensibility of the world. This is one example of why the roles of men and women in a family change. A change a man’s thinking about a family changes, too. In the past, fathers should be the sole provider for their children; now, fathers let their wives help in fulfilling the needs of a household.
Parsons and Bales’ “loss of function” in a family involved the reduction of the kinship units other than the family. Parsons and Bales said that the family now is a more specialized agency. This represented a decline in a certain feature of the family. However, it brought a new and stabilized form of the family. The best example for this is the contrast between the nuclear and extended family. For an extended family, traditionally, family members enter their family business to help maintain and let the business grow. On the other hand, a nuclear family is an isolated part of an extended family, which has a separate dwelling and has an option on whether to enter their family business or not.
According to Coontz (51), the following may have also influenced the increasing change in the family roles and functions: separation of home and workplace; increased nuclearity of the household structure; the decline in marital fertility; prolonged residence of the children in the house of their parents; and the lengthened period in which husbands and wives live together after their children leave their home.
The first and second statements of Coontz are related to the analysis of one function or feature of a family, which is “isolation”. In the past, wives were hands-on in child rearing, and they left the working function to the husband. However, in a middle class family of today, the wives -- who see the need for an additional income -- work and take care of the children until the time comes that they get out of the house and take jobs away from their home, leaving the children to someone who will look after them.
The increased nuclearity by Coontz is also explained by Parsons and Bales. The assumption that newly-weds will have to be by themselves and live separately from their parents is the start of the nuclear family. Parsons and Bales cited that the man, as the head of family, has the responsibility to get a stable and good job, which is accepted by the society where the family belongs. This is another way of ensuring that the function of being an instrumental leader is performed.
However, in the paper of Parsons and Bales, they also discussed that the function of the wife also changed. In relation to the decline of marital fertility, married women also plunged into the workforce. This is so because some men have jobs, which are not compensated well. In this regard, their wives opt to work to augment their situation. Being a busy woman, wives no longer think of having a child or another child. They thought that it was more important to alleviate their modest living. This kind of living has kept mothers from performing their function as a mother and wife. These are samples of the “loss of function”. It can also be a reversal situation when a father unfortunately can’t find a job and only the mother has a job to sustain the family. In this case, it is safe to say that women’s internal affairs are not only confined to being a wife, mother, and manager of the household.
The fourth one is the prolonged residence of the children in the house of their parents. The children may still be enjoying being single and the perks of living under the roof of their parents. As such, they don’t leave the parents to marry and have their own family. This also put pressure on the parents, especially if they still work for the family. However, the attitude and pieces of advice given by the parents can also influence the children’s viewpoint of marrying without making sure that they can provide for their future family.
The fifth one is the lengthened period of living together by the husbands and wives after their children leave. Since husband and wife will no longer be doing dual roles in the family, such as working and taking care of the children, they tend to still work. They feel that they have to gain something from their hard earned money now that they are done fulfilling their obligations towards their children.
The ultimate reason that the roles of a father and mother in the modern times cannot remain in being a provider and homemaker, respectively, is that -- as Parsons and Bales stated -- the adult members must hold other familial roles, which is called the “extrafamilial” role. As elucidated, this is a new model for the functions and roles of the adult men and women in a family. Having a nuclear family teaches the wife and husband to have a differentiation of roles and the acceptance of new roles.
Parsons and Bales also suggested that, since the husband and wife will have an additional role especially the wife, it is very important to have a differentiation of the role and to ensure that there is no competition between the two. They have to understand that they are doing these extrafamilial roles to help their family become established in the society and be respected by the community. Though there is a primary allocation of the roles between the sexes, such as the mother having the responsibility of nursing their babies and of being close to the children while the fathers are exempted from this kind of role, it is assumed that the father\s role of working for the family is their instrumental function. If they can’t keep up with the changing times, they will be a burden to the society for not performing their function, which is to sustain their family.
There might also some families who are stick in the conventional male/breadwinner model. In all fairness to this model, this is the most ideal model for a family. Men work and women take care of the children and the house. However, changes in the economy led to both parents working in order for them to meet the ballooning needs of a family. If they will try to maintain the conventional model of a family, it will put a strain on the relationship between the husband and wife as well as their relationship with their children.
Men are not only for occupational affairs and do not leave the responsibility of taking care for the children solely to the wife. As a father of today’s time, they have to understand that, together with the changing world, a mother also has a responsibility of helping the father provide for the needs of the family. On the part of the mother, this is a rationalized thinking of the love for their family. They juggle their work and family responsibilities due to the socioeconomic status of the society they live in.
Corbett, Andrew. What is a Family?: And Why it Matte: Achieving Workable Definition.
Australia: PrintIt, 2004. Print.
Mills, Wright. “”The Promise.” The Sociological Imagination. London: Oxford University Press,
Parson, Talcott and Bales, Robert F. Family, Socialization and Interaction Process. Glenview,
IL:Free Press. 1955. Print.
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