AQA Sociology SCLY1 Families and Households

Potential essay title areas
Topic 1: Couples
● Domestic Division of Labour ○ Using material from Item 2B and elsewhere, assess the view that gender roles and relationships have become more equal in modern family life. (June 2009) Impact of Paid Work Resources and Decision-Making in Households Domestic Violence

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Topic 2: Childhood
● Childhood as a Social Construct ○ Examine the ways in which childhood can be said to be socially constructed. (Jan 2009) Has the Position of Children Changed? The Future of Childhood

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Topic 3: Functions of the Family
● ● The Functionalist Perspective on the Family The Marxist Perspective on the Family ○ Using material from Item 2B and elsewhere, assess the Marxist view that the main role of the family is to serve the interests of capitalism. (Jan 2010) Feminist Perspectives on the Family

Topic 4: Demography
● Births ○ Examine the reasons for changes in birth rates and family size since 1900. (June 2009) Deaths Migration

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Topic 5: Changing Family Patterns
● ● ● ● ● Divorce Partnerships Parents and Children Ethnic Differences Modern Extended Families ○ Using material from Item 2B and elsewhere, assess the view that the nuclear family is no longer the norm. (Jan 2009) (This is an unusual question in that it straddles all the above five areas)

Topic 6: Family Diversity and the Life Course
● ● Modernism and the Nuclear Family Post-modernity and the Life Course

Topic 7: Families and Social Policy
● ● Comparative Family Policy Theoretical Perspectives on Policy ○ Examine the ways in which government policies and laws may affect the nature and extent of family diversity. (Jan 2010)

How to plan for potential exam essays
Below are two possible titles in AQA form. A good idea for practicing essays (and revising knowledge) is to plan these out by using the ‘for’ and ‘against’ structure as detailed below. Each of the essay topic areas above can be reworked into a essay question and practised in this

manner. If you did this for each and every topic area you will be prepared for almost any essay question the examiners throw against you! For example under Topic 4: Births there is a question asked in June 2009 - ‘Examine the reasons for changes in birth rates and family size since 1900.’ - this you could easily rewrite to become ‘Examine the reasons for changes in death rates and family size since 1900.’ The essay titles given in the section above (highlighted in italic blue) are those that have been set in past papers for the current AQA specification. They act as examples for you to ‘invent’ your own questions in each essay topic area also to allow you to ‘spot’ what questions may come up in the next exam. NOTE: It is unlikely that the examiners will set a question on an essay topic area that has already been used.

Example Essays:
1/ Assess the view that the family is a universal, essential and beneficial social institution. Background: This is advocating a functionalist view of the family,which sees it as present in all societies and essential and beneficial because it performs vital functions. Murdock is a good starting point and Parsons is also important. The short section on the functions of the family is useful as well. There are many ways of criticising the statement using critics of Murdock and Parsons and perspectives which put forward very different views. Both Marxism and feminism see aspects of the family as far from beneficial.

For • Murdock • Parsons • Fletcher and Parsons

Against • Marxism • Feminism • Critics of Murdock • Critics of Parsons • Loss of family functions

Tip: The question of whether the family is universal depends on how you define 'the family'. There is lots of evidence of increased diversity in family types in Britain, so you can discuss whether alternatives to conventional nuclear families are good for society or not. 2/ Assess the view that the family is still patriarchal Background:

This is clearly a statement that feminists would tend to support. Chapter 12 in Haralambos, on theory, is useful for defining and discussing patriarchy and for criticising the concept. Radical feminists support this view most strongly, liberal feminists more weakly, and Marxist and socialist feminists partially agree because they see families as both male-dominated and shaped by capitalism. Evidence on conjugal roles suggests some reduction in inequality but would generally support the statement. Postmodernists deny that generalizations such as this are useful, seeing families as diverse and therefore considering all sweeping statements about them to be invalid.

For • Radical feminism • Liberal feminism • Marxist/socialist feminism • Evidence of continuing inequality in conjugal roles

Against • Functionalism • Postmodernism • Evidence of reductions in inequality in conjugal roles

Tip: You might consider whether different types of family are equally patriarchal. Lesbian families would seem to be at least one exception.

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