Family and Households

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188 Terms



Two or more people linked by birth, marriage, adoption or cohabitation based on longterm relationship (kinship)

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Group of people who live together, but are not necessarily related e.g. students renting a flat.

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People who live together in a sexual relationship without getting married.

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Relationship with only one person

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MARRIAGE TYPES: Serial Monogamy

The practice of engaging in a succession of monogamous sexual relationships

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MARRIAGE TYPES: Arranged Marriage

Martial union where the bride and groom are primarily selected by individuals based on race, religion, social class etc.

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Civil Partnership

A legally recognised union with rights similar to those of marriage, created originally for same sex couples in places they were not legally allowed to marry.

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The practice or custom of having more than one wife simultaneously.

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Polygamy in which a woman has more than one husband.

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STRUCTURES: Nuclear Family

A couple and their dependent children, basic social unit.

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STRUCTURES: Extended Family

Nuclear family and grandparents and other relatives

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STRUCTURES: Classic Extended Family

3 or more generations live together in one household

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STRUCTURES: Modified Extended Family

When a family lives apart but they keep their family ties alive.

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STRUCTURES: Bean Pole Family

Those with fewer children and multiple generations of older members.

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STRUCTURES: Patriarchal Family

A family controlled by a man

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STRUCTURES: Matriarchal Family

A family controlled by a woman

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STRUCTURES: Symmetrical Family

Where a family divides all responsibilities equally between partners.

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STRUCTURES: Reconstituted Family

Two adults marrying, where at least one has children from outside the relationship.

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STRUCTURES: Lone Parent Family

A person who lives with a child or children and who does not have a spouse or live with a partner.

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STRUCTURES: Gay/Lesbian Family

LGBT people raising one or more children as parents or foster care parents.

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STRUCTURES: Single Person Household

One person living in a household alone

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Functionalist main view of the family

Just like an organ in the human body, functionalists believe that the family enables society to function.

  • The family is the basic building block of society that eventually leads to social cohesion

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Murdock’s 4 functions of the family

  1. Stable satisfaction of the sex drive

  2. Reproduction of the next generation

  3. Socialisation of the young

  4. Meeting its members’ economic needs

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A03: Murdock’s 4 functions of the family

Other sociologists believe that these functions could be carried out equally well by other institutions, like education.

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A03: Murdock’s 4 functions of the family

Murdock recognises the contribution of other institutions but argues that the nuclear family is universal (in 250 societies he studied) because of its ‘sheer practicality’ in performing the 4 essential functions.

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A03: Murdock’s 4 functions of the family

Murdock has a ‘rose tinted’ harmonious consensus view

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A03: Murdock’s 4 functions of the family

Feminists believe that the family only serves the needs of men and oppresses women.

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A03: Murdock’s 4 functions of the family

Marxists believe that the family only serves the needs of capitalism not the needs of its members and society as a whole.

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Parsons ‘Functional Fit Theory’

Parsons argues that the particular structure and functions of a given type of family will fit the needs of society.

  • Pre-Industrial Family: Extended family, Unit of production, Ascribed status

  • Post-Industrial Family: Isolated nuclear family, Unit of Consumption, Geographically Mobile

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A03: Parsons ‘Functional Fit Theory’

Young and Willmott (1973) and Laslett (1972): pre-industrial family was nuclear, not extended.

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A03: Parsons ‘Functional Fit Theory’

Young and Willmott: hardship of the early industrial period gave rise to a ‘mum centred’ working-class extended family.

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A03: Parsons ‘Functional Fit Theory’

Hareven (1999): extended family not the nuclear was structure best equipped to meet the needs of the early industrial society.

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A03: Parsons ‘Functional Fit Theory’

There is some support for the claim that the nuclear family has become dominant but the extended family has not disappeared.

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Marxists main view of the family

Marxists see all society’s institutions as helping to maintain class inequality and capitalism

  • For Marxists, the functions of the family are purely for the benefit of the capitalist system. (tool for capitalism)

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How is the family a tool of capitalism for Marxists?

  • Inheritance of Wealth- Engels

  • Socialisation- Althussar

  • Cushioning Effect- Zaretsky

  • Unit of Consumption- Zaretsky

  • Reproduction

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Engels- Inheritance of private property

The nuclear family developed so that men could control children and women, and allow the to pass property to their biological offspring. This is the patriarchal monogamous nuclear family where women have been turned in ‘a mere instrument for the production of children’

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Zareksky- Unit of Consumption

  • The family is a prop to the capitalist system. The unpaid work of housewives support future generations of workers.

  • The family consumes the products produced by the bourgeoisie to make profits. The family supports workers to help them carry on working.

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A02: Zareksky- Unit of Consumption

  • Advertised urge families to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ by consuming all the latest products

  • The media target children, who use ‘pester power’ to persuade parents to spend more.

  • Children who lack the latest clothes or ‘must have’ gadgets are mocked and stigmatised by their peers.

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Poulantzas- Family as an ISA

The family is part of the superstructure, part of the ISA used to control and create values to support capitalism.

  • The family is nothing more than ‘an ideological conditioning device’. Children learn to conform and become cooperative and exploited workers.

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Ideological functions of the family (marxist)

Family socialised children into the idea that hierarchy and inequality are inevitable. Parental power over children over children accustoms them to the idea that someone is always in charge and prepares them for work.

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Zaretsky- Family=Haven

Family also provides a ‘haven from the harsh world’ of capitalism, although it is an illusion and is based upon the domestic servitude of women.

  • He argues that class inequalities are ‘reproduced’ generation after generation within families.

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3 main Marxist functions of the family

  1. Inheritance of property

  2. Ideological functions

  3. Unit of consumption

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A03: Marxist view of the family

Marxists assume that the nuclear family is dominant and ignores wide and increasing variety of family structures in society today.

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A03: Marxist view of the family

Feminists believe that Marxists emphasis on capitalism and social class underestimates the importance of gender inequalities in the family.

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A03: Marxist view of the family

Functionalists believe that Marxists ignore the very real benefits that the family provides for its members, such as intimacy and mutual support.

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A03: Marxist view of the family

Zaretsky has been criticised for exaggerating the extent to which the family can escape from alienating work as he ignores the fact that the family can be a place of cruelty, neglect and violence.

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A03: Marxist view of the family

Some families are anti capitalist and socialise their children to be critical of the ruling class.

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A03: Marxist view of the family

Marxism is useful for highlighting the importance of economic influences of family life and because it raises the possibility that the family as an institution benefits some social groups (higher classes) more than others.

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Feminists main view of the family

Argue that the nuclear family has traditionally performed 2 key functions that have oppressed women.

  • Socialisation

  • Inequality

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Liberal Feminists view of the family

  • Causes of inequality in the family

  • Long inflexible working hours

  • Expectations in domestic labour

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Sommerville- March of progress view

  • Changes in government polices- Equal Pay Act (1970), Sex Discrimination Act (1975)

  • Dual earning household- both parents earning an income

  • Changes in parenting- more stay at home dads

  • Changes in social attitudes- education, marriage, sexuality etc.

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Marxist Feminism

Looks at how women are exploited and how this benefits the capitalist society

  • Society needs to tackle capitalism to tackle patriarchy.

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Beechey- Marxist Feminism

Reproduction of the labour force

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Beechey- Marxist Feminism

Reserve army of cheap labour e.g. WWII

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Ansley- Marxist Feminist

Women are takers of shit

  • When men come home and try to relieve their stress (Warm Bath Theory) from working in a capitalist system, they do so by taking their frustrations out on their wives.

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Marxist Feminism- Soft Feminism

  • Payment for invisible work.

  • Closing the Pay gap

  • If domestic labour and invisible work was compensated it could equal an extra £222.54 per week for Women and £137.13 for men. Based on the average hourly rate paid to domestic workers.

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Marxist Feminisms- Hard Solutions

  • Revolution to overthrow capitalist systems.

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Delphy and Leonard- Radical Feminism

The main role of the family is to maintain patriarchy.

  • Family is a reflection of patriarchy in society.

  • Family= ownership

  • Gender Role Socialisation

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Radical Feminism- Solutions

Only by getting rid of patriarchy and the family in particularly will lead to the end of women's oppression.

  • Separatism: Women must organise themselves to live independently of men.

  • Political Lesbianism: heterosexual relationships are inevitably oppressive.

  • Matrilocal Households: all female households (Greer, 2000)

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Intersectional Feminism view on family

  • There is a false universality of women’s experiences in the family.

  • Lesbian, heterosexual, black, white, middle class and working class women will have very different experiences of the family.

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A03:Liberal Feminism

  • Intersectional Feminism: Ethnocentric View

  • Radical Feminism: Patriarchal Structures still persist

  • Anne Oakley: “Helping Out”

  • Over states the progress made.

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A03: Radical Feminists

Fails to recognise any improvements in domestic life

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A03: Intersectional Feminists

Fail to recognise that women share many experiences such as low pay

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The Personal Life Perspective (PLP)

  • Very different from Functionalists Marxists and Feminists

  • Which are ‘top down’ structural approaches.

  • This is a ‘bottom up’ Interactionist approach.

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PLP main view of the family

  • People start with the meaning individuals give to their relationships and how these shape their actions.

  • They look at the wider view of relationships rather than just blood and marriage ties.(Kinship)

  • Draws our attention to relationships that can’t conventionally be defined as ‘family’.

  • Instead, it looks at relationships which individuals see as significant and give a sense of identity, belonging and relatedness.

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Postmodernist view of the family

  • The structures of the family are no longer dictated by tradition or society

  • There is no such thing as the universal family type.

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PLP theorists

  • Giddens- Needs based family

  • Beck- Negotiated family

  • Stacey- Family is ambiguous and fluid

  • Leech- Cereal Pack Family

  • Smart- Connectedness Thesis

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Material Support Policies

  • Working Tax Credits

  • Child Tax Credits

  • Statutory Maternity Pay

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Physical Support Policies

  • Maternity and Paternity Leave

  • Child Protection Plan

  • Early years child care

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Important policies pre-1980

  • Legalisation of the Contraception Pill (1967)

  • Divorce Reform Act (1969)

  • The Beveridge Report (1942)

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Cross-Cultural Examples of Social Policies & The Family

  • China- One Child Policy: 1979-2016

    • Limited the number of children in order to control the massive population growth in China.

    • Those who had more than one child faced sanctions, forced abortion and sterilisation.

  • Communist Romania 1948 - 1989

    • Aimed to increase population, restricted contraception and abortion availability, set up infertility centres and made divorce more difficult. Unmarried and childless couples paid 5% more in tax.

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Conservative Policies (1997-1997)

Aimed to increase population, restricted contraception and abortion availability, set up infertility centres and made divorce more difficult. Unmarried and childless couples paid 5% more in tax.

  • Child Support Agency (1993)

  • Children’s Act (1989)

  • Married Men’s Tax allowance

  • Section 28

  • Illegitimate Children given same rights as those who have married parents

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New Labour Policies (1997-2010)

Still under the influence of the New Right, however much more progressive, favouring the Duel Earning family over traditional roles. Gave some support to alternative family types but still preferred the heterosexual nuclear family.

  • Parenting Order for parents of unruly children

  • Longer Maternity leave

  • Allowed unmarried and same sex couple adoption

  • The New Deal

  • Working Families Tax Credit

  • Civil Partnership Act

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Coalition Policies (2010-2015)

The coalition government had very inconsistent policies on the family due ro the conflict between the two camps of MP’s:

  1. Modernists- acceptance of diversity in the family

  2. Traditionalists- who favour the New Right’s view of the traditional nuclear family.

  • Removed couples Penalty form Tax Credits

  • Introduced shared parental leave

  • Equal Marriage Act

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Conservative Policies (2016-2019)

The Conservative government has been mostly concerned with the issue of the UK leaving the European Union, however they have passed some polices relating to the family which return to the New Right focus they had in the 1980/90’s

  • Reintroduction of the Married Couples Tax allowance

  • 2 Child cap on Child tax

  • Civil Partnerships for Heterosexual couples

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Policies: Shaped Family Structure

  • 2 child tax credit cap- Conservative Govt 2016+

  • Civil Partnership Act- New Labour 1997-2010

  • Equal Marriage Act- Coalition Govt 2010-2016

  • Married couples tax allowance - Conservatives 2016+

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Policies: Shaped roles and responsibilities in the family

  • Longer maternity leave- New Labour 1997-2010

  • Shared Parental Leave - Coalition Govt 2010- 2016

  • Working Family Tax Credits- New Labour 1997-2010

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Policies: Changing position of children

  • Illegitimate children given the same rights as those to married couples- Conservatives 1979-1997

  • Child Support Agency- Conservatives 1979-1997

  • Parenting Order- New Labour 1997-2010

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Benedict - Differences between societies

Found that children in non-western cultures have more responsibility at home and work

  • How found that in many non-western cultures, the expected behaviour of children was less clearly separated from the expected behaviour of adults.

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A03: Benedict - Differences within societies

At the time of Benedict’s research, western societies has a very different opinion of non-western cultures. There was an idea that adults in these societies were childlike themselves.

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Pilcher (1995)- Differences between societies

Childhood in the west is clearly defined as a separate section of life to adulthood.

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Differences in childhood within a society

One major difference in childhood within a society is the experience of childhood e.g. Middle class children may be more likely to go to private school and afford the latest technology.

AO3: Is this really the case in modern Britain?

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Shorter-Differences in childhood over time

The main difference is in pre-industrial Britain, childhood and adulthood were not clearly distinguished from each other.

Shorter (1975)

  • Children had similar responsibilities to adults

  • Work began at an early age

  • There were no differences in rights

  • High infant mortality rates meant that parenting attitudes were different

  • Differences in childhood over time

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Reasons for differences in childhood over time

  • Laws & Legistlation (e.g. child labour, child protection, children’s rights, age limits)

  • Compulsory schooling

  • Lower infant mortality rates

  • Increased medical knowledge related to children

  • The main catalyst for this change was industrialisation.

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Postman thinks that childhood is disappearing.

  • He thinks that the shift from print culture (written words) to television culture has been the cause of change.

  • Therefore there is no longer an information hierarchy.

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Aries believe that children in today’s society:

  • Are more valued

  • Are more protected

  • Are better educated

  • Are healthier

  • Have by more rights.

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Child-centred family- Statistic

On average, you will cost your parents £227,000 by the time you reach your 21st birthday.

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Cunningham-Child-centred family

  • Childhood is the opposite of adulthood

  • Physical and symbolic separation

  • Different ‘rights’

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Wells- Child-centred family

Government almost entirely organised around internal and external threats

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Palmer- Toxic Childhood

Palmer believes that rapid technological and cultural changes have damaged children’s physical, emotional and intellectual development.

This is the result of

  • intensive marketing to children

  • parents working long hours

  • testing in education

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Age patriarchy- Gittins

Gittins believes that there is an age patriarchy of adult domination and child dependency.

  • This may assert itself in the form of violence against children.

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Child Abuse statistics

  • 1 in 14 children have been physically abused

  • Physical abuse is 19% of a child abuse cases

  • Over a third of all police-recorded sexual offences are against children

  • 73% of UK children know another child who is suffering neglect

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  • there are certain indicators of abuse

    • Injuries can occur accidentally when а child is at play it may, howevеr, be the result of ovеr-discipline or physical punishment that is inappropriate to the child’s age

    • Physical abuse should be suspected if the explanations do not fit the injury or if а pattеrn of frequency is apparent.

    • Physical abuse may consist of just one incident or it may happen repeatedly.

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Singer- Child soldiers

  • Found that thousands of children, some as young as 10, are serving as soldiers around the world

    • Observes that African states have been at the epicentre of using child soldiers

    • In Northern Uganda as many as 14,000 children have been abducted to serve as soldiers in the Lord's Resistance Army

    • During the civil war in Sierra Leone in the 1990s, many children were drugged and brainwashed by rebel militias and were forced to kill miam civilians, those who objected were killed

    • Girls were often used for sexual purposes

  • Abuse or neglect may stunt physical development of the child’s brain and lead to psychological problems, such as low self- esteem, which can later lead to high-risk behaviours.

  • Consequences of child abuse

    • Physical health : increased risk of brain damage, heart attack etc

    • Psychological : Diminished executive functioning and cognitive skills, attachment and social difficulties,

    • Behaviour : alcohol and other drug use, future maltreatment

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Jeffrey et al- Social class effecting childhood

By the age of 7 children who experienced poverty had significantly fallen behind in school compared to children from middle class backgrounds. This also increased the chance of illness.

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Ghumann- Religion effecting childhood

  • Found that religion had a big impact on childhood experience of Asians

  • He found that generational conflict between Asian parents and children exists, but it is often resolved through compromise

  • For example, many Muslim children spent there Saturday mornings learning Qur’ an

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O’Brien et al- Racism effect on childhood

  • found that ‘race’ and gender often interact to have a negative impact on the experience of childhood.

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Globalisation & Childhood statistics

  • Children in developing countries are less likely to have access to education (67.4 million do not attend school)

  • 122 million children 18 and under cannot read and write

  • ⅔ are thought to be girls

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‘the value of mum’

In 2013, a report called ‘the value of a mum’ (The Legal and General insurance firm) estimated a domestic labour figure.

  • £31,627 per year

  • £608.21 per week

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  • Housework is a relatively modern invention. In pre-industrial times, household tasks were not clearly distinguished from more general economic tasks, such as working on the farm, tending to the animals, baking and the various activities of cottage industries

  • During the Industrial Revolution, men became increasingly identified with the public world of production and wage labour, while women were confined to the private sphere of consumption and the home.

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