Unit Types of Family in Modern Society
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Данное пособие представляет собой один тематический блок из семи учебных программных тем, изучаемых на 5 курсе в рамках дисциплины “Дискурсивные практики коммуникации”. Тема “Семья в современном обществе” рассматривается в социологическом аспекте с акцентом на актуальные тенденции развития института семьи: виды семьи в современном обществе, проблемы воспитания, трудности молодой семьи, вступление в брак и оформление развода и др.
Каждый раздел пособия составлен по единой схеме и представляет собой комплексный блок, посвященный определенному аспекту изучаемой темы, содержит 2-3 базовых текста, разработки к тематическим аудио- и/или видеопрограммам и художественным фильмам, упражнения на активизацию ключевого словаря, упражнения, направленные на обсуждение тематической проблематики на базе учебных текстов, аудио- и видеоматериалов. Основное внимание уделяется упражнениям, содержащим творческие задания, способствующие развитию и совершенствованию коммуникативных и переводческих навыков, умению вести дискуссию, подготовке презентаций, моделированию различных видов дискурса и т.д. В рамках данного пособия дискурс понимается как поэтапное ситуативное конструирование и презентация устного монологического текста (например, подготовка проекта по предложенной проблемной ситуации) или диалогического текста (например, ролевые игры, телеинтервью), а также творческого письменного текста (например, написание критической статьи на основе тематического художественного фильма). Пособие носит обучающий характер и содержит основные схемы подготовки отдельных заданий, а также примеры их выполнения.
Пособие предназначено для студентов старших курсов лингвистических вузов и магистрантов, может использоваться как во время аудиторных занятий, так и для самостоятельной работы. В процессе прохождения темы преподаватель выбирает наиболее актуальные аспекты для изучения.
Unit 1. Types of Family in Modern Society
Study and learn the topical focus vocabulary list. Provide Russian equivalents to the vocabulary items.
Focus Vocabulary List
(to be) a thing of the past*
to blame smth on smb; to blame smb for smth; to put the blame on smb; to be to blame*
to be related by blood or law; to be blood-related; blood relationship(s)
to commit oneself to marriage/to make a marriage commitment
(syn. colloquial to tie the knot); marriage bonds/ties
Study the texts, identify the active vocabulary items and discuss the questions following the texts.
The British Family
There are many different views on family life. Some people could not do without the support and love of their families. Others say it is the source of most of our problems and anxieties. Whatever the truth is, the family is definitely a powerful symbol. Turn on the television or open a magazine and you will see advertisements featuring happy balanced families. Politicians often try to win votes by standing for “family values”: respect for parental authority, stability in marriage, chastity and care for the elderly.
Sociologists divide families into two general types: the nuclear family and the extended family, which may incorporate three or more generations living together, in industrialized countries, and increasingly in the large cities of developing countries, the nuclear family is regarded as normal, typically consisting of two parents and two children. In fact, the number of households containing a nuclear family is shrinking year by year.
There are people who say that the family unit in Britain is in crisis and that traditional family life is a thing of the past. This is of great concern to those who think a healthy society is dependent upon a stable family life. They see many indications that the family is in decline, in such things as the acceptance of sex before marriage, the increased number of one-parent families, the current high divorce rate and what they see as a lack of discipline within the family. Some politicians blame social problems, such as drug taking and juvenile crime, on a disintegrating family life.
Concern that the family is in a state of crisis is not new in Britain. In the nineteenth century, many legislators and reformers were saying the same. It was also a concern between the two World Wars, and in the 1980s it became a continuous political issue.
There is no definition of a “normal” family. Broadly speaking, the family is a group of people related by blood or law, living together or associating with one another for a common purpose. That purpose is usually to provide shelter and food, and to bring up children. The nature of the family keeps changing: there are a number of types of family that exist in a society at any one time.
Family life in the past
Many people think there was once a golden age in which the world was filled with happy families. The mother ran the house, and the father went out to work to bring back enough money for this ideal family to live its life. The family – mother, father and three or four healthy, happy children – would go out for an occasional treat. Roles were very clear for the parents and children. Discipline within the family unit was strong, and moral standards were high. This image is the kind of family life people mean when they talk about “Victorian values”.
It is doubtful whether many families ever lived such a life, especially in Victorian times. Working hours were long for most families, and children were often poorly fed and badly clothed. The vision of a golden age is based perhaps on how we think perfect family life should be.
Some sociologists argue that the nature of the family is constantly changing and that there is no point in making comparisons with families of a generation ago. However, people continue to hope for a stable family life. Marriage has not gone out of fashion; although the number of divorces has increased, so has the number of divorced people who will remarry.
British family life in the 2000s
What is clear about Britain in the 2000s is that it is more socially acceptable to have alternative life styles, relationships and ways of bringing up children than it has ever been. It is also easier to renounce an unhappy family situation. In most social groups, divorce is no longer seen as taboo. One-parent families are common. Many children are given more freedom when young; when they move away from home, they move earlier (usually at around 18), and go further. People experiment with relationships before committing themselves to marriage and there is greater acceptance of homosexual relationships. In Britain’s multi-cultural society there are many examples of different ways of living. Nowadays, our primary sexual characteristics – whether we are men or women – no longer seem to completely dictate what roles we should take in life.
Until relatively recently, most mothers in Britain did not take paid work outside the home. Sometimes women did voluntary work, especially those of the middle classes. However, most women’s main (unpaid) labour was to run the home and look after their family. Whether they did this themselves or supervised other people doing it was a matter of class and money. By entering the labour market, women have now altered the face of family life. As the role of the woman in the family changed, so did the role of the man.
Equality in work?
A number of legal changes have given women new opportunities. In 1970, the Equal Pay Act attempted to stop discrimination against women in the field of employment. In 1975 the Sex Discrimination Act, followed by the Employment Equality Regulations (1999, 2003, 2006) and the Equality Act (2006) marked a further attempt to protect women in employment, education and other areas. The 1975 Employment Protection Act gave women the right to maternity leave.
In Britain today women make up 44% of the workforce, and nearly half the mothers with children under five years old are in paid work. It is not uncommon to find that the mother is the main breadwinner. The incentives for women to work or to return to work are increasing all the time, but there are still problems for women who want or have to work.
Although there is a greater acceptance of men taking more of an interest in child care and domestic duties, studies show that men’s and women’s roles have not changed as much as could be expected. In most families working women are still mothers, housekeepers and income providers. There is a stigma attached to the phenomenon of “latch key kids”1. Society expects someone – usually the mother – to be there. Because of the difficulties of combining the mother role with the demands of a career, women’s work also tends to be low-paid and irregular.
Britain is old-fashioned as regards maternity leave. If they do get maternity leave, women are often worried that, if they do not return to work quickly, they will lose their job and it is often very difficult for them to find another. Paternity leave – time off for the father – is rare, although it is becoming common in other European countries.
A big problem for working mothers in the UK is the low standard of child-care facilities for рrе-school children. Parents may employ a nanny to come to their home or to live with them. This is very expensive and only realistic for a small percentage of families. An alternative is child-care centres run by the local council, where a child-minder looks after children during the day in their own home, it is not always easy to get a place in one of these centres.
Once the child has reached school age, most women in Britain work part time, to fit in with school hours. However, this is not always possible for women who pursue a career. Recently there has been increasing pressure on the Government to provide more money for state day nurseries, and on employers to establish crèches in the workplace.
In the past, families tended to stay together. They felt it was their duty to do this and that marriage was lifelong. Divorce was not socially acceptable. It was a commonly held view that a bad marriage was better than no marriage at all.
In Britain, as in many industrialized societies, there was a steady rise in the numbers of divorces up to 2004. The Second World War disrupted a lot of marriages, due to enforced separation and hasty marriages which were later regretted. Immediately after the war there were a record number of divorces and the proportion of marriages involving a divorced partner grew from 2% in 1940 to 32% in 1985. However, between 2004 and 2005 the provisional divorce rate in England and Wales fell by 8 per cent to 13.0 divorcing people per 1,000 married population. This is the lowest number of divorces since 2000. This is 14 per cent lower than the highest number of divorces which peaked in 1993 (180,018).
Legal changes have made it much easier to get a divorce. The most dramatic change resulted from the 1971 divorce law. The law stated that there needed to be only one reason for a divorce petition – the “irretrievable breakdown of marriage.” This was a much wider category than the previous ones of cruelty, insanity, desertion or adultery. The change in the law had an immediate effect. In 1972 there were over 119,000 divorces in England and Wales. Proposed laws may make divorce even easier.
Couples can now afford the legal side of getting and surviving a divorce more easily than at any time in the past. However, for many families it is still an economic disaster as well as being emotionally difficult.
Another possible reason behind a wider acceptance of divorce is the changing attitude to marriage itself. The traditional Christian approach to marriage has been against divorce. As the Church becomes less influential in the UK, the view of marriage as a union for life has weakened. The result is that the break-up of a marriage is seen as less of a moral crisis and more as a matter of personal happiness.
Perhaps the people most affected by a divorce are the children. According to forecasts, about 20% of children in Britain, usually between the ages of five and ten, will experience family breakdown by the age of 16. A number of laws (the Children Act, 1989) have indicated that first consideration should be given to the welfare of the children when making financial arrangements after a divorce.
If a marriage is going through a troubled time, the partners may ask for help from the voluntary counsellors of an organization which is called Relate (formerly the Marriage Guidance Council).
Cohabitation and marriage
Since the Second World War, there has been an increased acceptance of sex before marriage in Britain. Successive post-war generations are more likely to have had sex before marriage and are more likely to have sex with partners other than the one they eventually marry.
It is now acceptable in most social circles for people to live together before they are married – if they intend to get married at all. The numbers of couples cohabiting increased during the 2000s, becoming common as a living arrangement before marriage. Many people think that this is a useful way of “testing out” a relationship before the commitment of marriage. There is no word in English to describe the relationship of a cohabiting couple. People sometimes describe themselves as “partners” or say that they have a live-in boyfriend or girlfriend.
As the number of couples living together has increased, so the marriage rate has decreased. Since the early 1990s, the number or people getting married has fallen, and the proportion of women who are married fell steeply for all age groups.
On average, those who do choose to get married tend to marry later: the ages at which men and women marry for the first time have risen continuously in recent years. In 2005, it was 33 for men and 31 for women.
Children born outside marriage
In 2000, 41% of children born in England and Wales were born outside marriage. In 1980, the figure was 11.8%. One of the reasons for this change is that couples no longer feel compelled to get married if they have a child. By the early 2000s, the majority of births outside marriage were to cohabiting couples, not to single people.
Unmarried teenage mothers
Society used to be very cruel towards the teenage mother. Now families are more sympathetic, and hasty marriages because of an unplanned pregnancy are less common. There has also been a dramatic fall in the number of babies available for adoption, indicating that more babies are kept by the parent. The young mother is more likely to keep her child than 50 years ago, but the single parent still faces great economic problems.
In England, lone-parent family homes increased from 3.3% of all households in 1990 to 5.5% in 2000. There are several different types of one-parent family. Parents can be on their own because of the death of a partner, divorce, the break-down of live-in relationships, or births outside marriage to single people.
Fathers face particular problem as single parents. British society does not expect men to have their working life disrupted by the need to care for a sick child, for example. Men may have to fight for the right to look after their children – the mother is often presumed to have more rights to them.
9 in 10 lone parents are women. Women are clearly at a disadvantage in a society where the state assumes a man will be the main breadwinner, and there are few opportunities for lone mothers to earn a good income while continuing to look after their children. A lone parent with a well-paid job may be able to pay for a nanny, but this is rare. Around 80% of lone parents rely on state benefits as their main source of income. Although single-parent families are now accepted by society, the majority view is that two parents are almost essential for the stable upbringing of a child, as children need role models of both sexes.
Immigration has brought a number of family forms to Britain that are different from the traditional British pattern.
Asian families tend to put a much greater emphasis on blood relationships. Family members feel that they have strong loyalties and obligations both to their family in Britain and also to the rest of the family who may still be in their country of origin. Many Indian families, for example, continue to provide financial support for relatives in India.
Immigrant families, such as South Asian families, may be patriarchal: the man is the head of the household. He controls the family finances and negotiates major family decisions. This male-dominated family life has meant that, in the early years of immigration, many women were cut off from the rest society, because of social and language barriers.
West Indian families present another distinct family pattern. Studies in the early 1980s showed that there are two basic patterns to many West Indian families in Britain. One consists of a household where a man and a woman live together with their children, with or without a formal marriage. Secondly, there is the female-dominated household where women care for the children and provide an income on their own.
It is generally thought that before the 1960s and the start of what is sometimes called the “permissive society”, parents were much stricter with children. Nowadays many people have a different attitude to parenting. One view is that children should be talked to and listened to, and they should be more involved in family decisions. In families like this, parents explain house rules instead of imposing them on the child. Hitting children is now frowned upon in most families.
Family sizes are steadily shrinking. This is partly because people have fewer children: in Britain most people have just two. But the main factor is the increase in the number of one-person households. A high proportion of singletons have never married – there is no longer great pressure on people to do so. In the past a woman, especially, would not leave the family home until she was getting married and starting her own family. Now many children leave home at around 18. It is not unusual for young people to live alone or with friends.
There is also an increasing number of old people living alone. Critics say too many old people below pensionable age are neglected by their families. The homes of the nuclear family are often not big enough to take in any extra members. Old people may not want to move if their children now live in another town.