The extended family consists of two or more generations of the same family residing in the same household. Members of the extended family can consist of, but are not limited to, husband and wife, their children, maternal and paternal grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. The extended family is also referred to as the “consanguine family” because most of its members include those of the same bloodline.
Sociologists once believed that the extended family was the norm in preindustrial societies, an economic unit that produced and distributed goods. In addition, extended families relied on one another for economic survival, support, and services, such as care for the sick and the elderly, services that society did not yet provide.
With industrialization, family members leave home to seek work that pays wages, leading to the end of the family as an economic unit and the breakdown of the extended family. This gives rise to the nuclear family, consisting of husband and wife and their children residing in a home of their own. The nuclear family is also known as the “conjugal family” because it centers on marriage.
The assumption that the extended family thrived prior to industrialization may be a myth. Records of households in Europe and America during the 17th century show that the nuclear family was actually the most common family form of the time. The idea of the extended family as dominant may have derived from the most common living arrangements of the time, in which the nuclear family may have had servants, slaves, boarders, lodgers, or apprentices living within the same household and contributing economically to the household.
The industrial revolution may have actually promoted the extended family, as members of nuclear families left home to seek work in urban areas and sought out relatives to live with, out of economic need. In addition, some working-class families in urban areas shared living spaces in order to share living expenses.
Today variations of the traditional extended family can be seen among different racial, ethnic, and social groups throughout U.S. society. Many extended families live within the same geographical location and rely on each other to provide financial and social support, child care, and protection. In poor urban and rural areas, extended families develop in response to economic needs and to provide support for one another. Among the elite, extended families provide a sense of community and maintain the family’s wealth.
As many extended families no longer live within the same household, the U.S. Census Bureau and the Internal Revenue Service do not recognize these families as extended but rather as separate family households. As a result, there are no public programs or policies in place to support the extended family.
Although not always the dominant form of family within society, the extended family has always existed in response to economic factors. With the increase in single-parent households, the high divorce rate, stagnating wages, and the high costs of housing and child care, extended family households have been on the rise.
- Coontz, Stephanie. 2000. The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap. 2nd ed. New York: Basic Books.
- Hansen, Karen V. 2005. Not-So-Nuclear Families: Class,
- Gender, and Networks of Care.New Brunswick, NJ:
- Rutgers University Press. Hughes, Michael and Carolyn J. Kroehler. 2005. Sociology:
- The Core. 7th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill. Ojeda, Auriana. 2003. The Family. Farmington Hills, MI:
- Ruggles, Steven. 1987. Prolonged Connections: The Rise of the Extended Family in Nineteenth Century England and America. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press.
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This page provides links to blog posts on the main topics of the AQA’s Families and Households module. It’s gradually being populated and most of the families and households material should be completed by end of November 2016. If you like this sort of thing – you might like to check out my various revision resources for sale on Sellfy
An Introduction to the Sociology of the Family
Defining the Family – class notes
Families in the UK – Seven Interesting Statistics – class notes, with pretty pictures
Perspectives on The Family
An Overview of what you need to know –a knowledge check list covering key concepts, research studies, sociologists, and some suggested short answer and essay style exam questions
The Functionalist perspective on the family – detailed class notes
The Marxist perspective on the family – detailed class notes
Feminist perspectives on the family – detailed class notes
The Liberal Feminist perspective on the family – detailed class notes and evaluations
The Marxist Feminist perspective on the family – detailed class notes
The Radical Feminist perspective on the family – detailed class notes
The New Right View of the family – class notes
The postmodern view of the family – class notes
The Late Modern perspective on the family – class notes
Dating and Relationships in Postmodern Society – exploratory extension/ evaluate post
The Personal Life Perspective on the family – class notes
All Perspectives Mind Maps – an overview of perspectives on the family in mind maps (external link, purchase for £cheap£)
Marriage, Divorce and Cohabitation
Overview of what you need to know – a knowledge check list covering key concepts, research studies, sociologists, and some suggested short answer and essay style exam questions
Explaining the changing patterns of marriage – class notes
Explaining the decline in marriage – external video link
Explaining the changing patterns of divorce – mind map
Examine the long term increase in divorce rates – essay plan
The consequences of declining marriage and increasing divorce – class notes
Trends in Family Structure – Family Diversity/ The Decline of the Nuclear Family?
Trends in family and household diversity – very brief class notes (really an introduction to the topic)
Official Statistics on family and household diversity – trends 2016 update
Explaining the increase in family diversity part 1/3 – class notes
Explaining the increase in family diversity part 2/3 –class notes
Evaluating the view that the nuclear family is in decline part 3/3 – class notes
Why do so many young adults live with their parents? – detailed class notes and evaluations
Examining how family life varies by ethnicity in the UK – class notes
Power and Equality within Domestic Roles
To what extent are gender roles characterised by equality? – class notes
To what extent is the domestic division of labour equal? – class notes
Issues of power and control in relationships – class notes
To what extent is childhood socially constructed? – class notes
The March of Progress View of Childhood – class notes
Toxic Childhood – Toxic childhood and Paranoid Parenting – class notes
Is childhood disappearing? –class notes
Social policy and the family (an overview of social policies) – class notes
Sociological Perspectives on Social Policy and The Family – class notes
How do social policies affect family life? – external link, video
Explaining changes to the birth rate – class notes
Explaining the long term decline of the death rate – class notes
The consequences of an ageing population – summary of a Thinking Allowed Podcast from 2015
The consequences of an ageing population – mind map
Migration and its consequences for family life – very detailed class notes
A Level Sociology Families and Households Revision Bundle
If you like this sort of thing, then you might like my AS Sociology Families and Households Revision Bundle which contains the following:
- 50 pages of revision notes covering all of the sub-topics within families and households
- mind maps in pdf and png format – 9 in total, covering perspectives on the family
- short answer exam practice questions and exemplar answers – 3 examples of the 10 mark, ‘outline and explain’ question.
- 9 essays/ essay plans spanning all the topics within the families and households topic.
If you’re not quite as flush, how about this… just the 50 pages of accessible, user friendly, exam-focused notes for only £0.99* – from iTunes, Barnes and Noble and Kobo.
*Price will vary with dollar exchange rate
Overview of my six general types of blog post
- Knowledge check lists – these are quick check lists, typically for each topic rather than sub topic, literally just lists of concepts and some possible questions.
- Class notes – Medium to long posts which go into each topic in some detail, text-book stylee if you like.
- Evaluation/ Application Posts – what some students would regard as ‘bare long’ posts – these are the ones you should be reading, and writing for yourselves if you really want to ‘get’ sociology
- Revision notes – what most of you are hear for you lazy s******* – the briefest versions of notes on each topic
- Essay Plans – either complete or templates, sometimes bullet points – useful for exam training, but remember the exam board can quite easily throw you a curve ball essay.
- Other types of post – sometimes I might bring out the bears or do a top ten post – in which case I’ll chuck it in here as and when I get time…