How have families changed?
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Much effort has been spent in trying to analyse how families in western society have changed over the course of time. In seeking a model for explanation, sociologists divided families into two main types: the nuclear family, consisting of parent(s) and child(ren), and the extended family, consisting of parent(s), child(ren), and grandparent(s) or other kin. Before industrialisation, it has been argued,1 the majority of families were of the extended type, society was relatively static and stable, geographical and social mobility were minimal. From about 1750 onwards rapid population growth, urbanisation, capitalisation, but above all else industrialisation, resulted in a change to the nuclear family, which was allegedly better suited to the ‘needs’ of industrial society.
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