Changes in the family life
In recent years, one can note significant changes in family life. Individualism, consumerism, and lack of family intimacy are the major developments that have affected the relationship between the members of the family. Each individual attempts to maintain distance from other members of the family. Internet and mobile phones have contributed to this development. The conflict between tradition and modernity is mainly responsible for changes in family life.
In the 20th and 21st centuries, considerable changes in family life have been noted. This change is the result of conflict between traditional and modern values. Based on the emergence of modern values of society and the self, individuals assess their relations with society. According to the traditional view, the individual is bound by social norms, as the self becomes part of the social structure. On the other hand, the modern individualists would argue that the individual is at the centre of the society, and it is important to protect individual autonomy (Chambers 2012, pp. 35-36). The developments such as globalisation, migration, new job categories, and changes in the lifestyle of individuals have contributed to the changes in the relationship between individuals. In the past, traditional norms determined the relationship between individuals. The individuals, as members of the family, enjoy equality with others. For example, the husband and wife are equal, as they can express their views freely as members of the family. Individualism allows persons to make decisions based on their perceptions, feelings, and emotions and not based on the views of other members of the family or the clan (Chambers 2012, pp. 35-36).
Industrialisation, consumerism, and urbanization introduced considerable changes in the approach of the individual towards other members of the family and the society. Industrialisation contributed to an affluent society that demanded new commodities. The workers’ colonies were replaced by the new urban structures, which affected the communal life that could be noticed in the case of the workers’ settlements. The relationship between families declined, as they remained in their own secluded world. The individual preferred to maintain minimum contact with the community. The emergence of large numbers of divorce cases is another important development, a result of individualism. Divorce cases also indicated the breakdown of human relationships (Chambers 2012, p. 25).
One can note differences between the previous and present generations, as revealed by the drinking habits of the two generations. The older generation considered consumption of alcohol as a socialisation process, but the younger generation believes in drinking for its own sake. The implication is that they indulge in binge drinking. Often, they are also found drinking in their houses (Lindsay & Maher 2013, p. 104). The younger generation consumes a huge quantity of alcohol when compared with the older generation. Young drinkers claim that they are able to control their drinking habits. However, they may fail to achieve the control when compared with the older generation. The parents fear that their children may become alcohol addicts. Alcohol consumption, a product of modernity, has affected family relationships. The younger generation does not listen to the advice of their parents that they should reduce or avoid alcohol consumption (Lindsay & Maher 2013, p. 104).
It is also possible to note the cultural changes that are affecting family life. The modern generation uses the Internet, mobile phones, and the latest gadgets that are available in the market. Consequently, the face-to-face conversation has been replaced by conversation through the virtual world. This development has affected the relationship between individuals as members of the family. The Internet has affected intimate relationships among family members, as they prefer to lead a secluded life. The Internet and mobile cultures have affected family life, as outsiders can interfere in the life of the members of the family. Individuals are able to create their own social space and identity by using the medium of the Internet. At the same time, parents have the objective of introducing their children to modern technology (Lindsay & Maher 2013, p. 50).
A product of modernity has been the creation of the distance between the family members who do not interact with each other. People travel long distances to reach their workplace, and in the process, they seek isolation. Previously, a mother and a daughter would interact with each other, but today they tend to remain at different places (Holdsworth 2013, pp. 1-2).
Overcrowding is another development, the product of modern life. Due to overcrowding in the cities and public transport, people tend to seek privacy, and this has affected the intimate relationships between the family members. Interestingly, people have realized that there is a gap between the family members, but they are not able to find a viable solution to deal with this problem. Due to the lack of intimate relationships between the family members, they are compelled to seek assistance from external agencies to deal with routine problems. For example, in the UK, the government designed a parenting program to educate families concerning the ways of nurturing and training their children. The state interference in the family life is another product of modern life (Holdsworth 2013, pp. 1-2).
In modern society, one can note changes in family life due to new conceiving technology. Women obtain semen from the donors and conceive. Even though the donor and the receiver of semen are expected to maintain an official relationship, they also maintain a personal relationship. Such a development can affect the relationship among the family members. The donor may exhibit interest in the child who is born because of the donation of his semen. In this case, the mother is also not able to avoid a relationship with the donor. Consequently, an outsider is able to intrude into the family, thereby affecting the balance of the family life. The donor may take the initiative to decide the future of the child. When the child becomes an adult, he or she may develop an ambiguous relationship with the actual parents and the donor (Nordqvist & Smart 2014, pp. 121-122). The emergence of same-sex marriage or civil partnership is another significant issue that has contributed to changes in the relationship between the family members. Lesbians tend to conceive by obtaining donor's help (Nordqvist & Smart 2014, p. 45). In some cases, the single mother takes the support of the donor to nurture the child. In the end, the child may decide to lead a life away from the family. The implication is the forces of modernity have disrupted the family life, leading to significant changes within the family.
Developments such as individualisation and consumerism have encouraged people to seek pleasure in the family. At the same time, individuals tend to find pleasure outside their homes, and this has affected the intimate relationship between individuals (Cohen & Kennedy 2013, p. 3). Globalisation has contributed to the interaction between different cultures. Even though it has positive connotations, it has also affected the intimate relationship between the members of the family. It has contributed to the belief that one should seek pleasure, and in the process, there is growing inequality between members of the society and family (Cohen & Kennedy 2013, p. 3).
The pleasure-seeking individual justifies his or her behaviour. At the same time, it has affected his or he relationship with other members of the family. Individuals attempt to imitate celebrities who have become role models for them. Social status is related to the wealth and the political position that one obtains. This development has contributed to inequality between individuals. Consequently, the individual is not able to concentrate on other members of the family (Cohen & Kennedy 2013, p. 3).
Families face problems related to parenting, children, and economic status. As there is a gap between generations, parents lack knowledge regarding parenting. In addition, cohabitation has emerged as the latest development, which has affected family life. Individuals prefer cohabitation to marriage, as social institutions do not bind them. In such cases, they cannot seek the assistance of the elders who may refuse to cooperate with individuals who live outside the institution of the family. Poverty is affecting the family, as it cannot nourish the children. Teen pregnancy is another problem that is affecting a modern society like the UK. Teens lack appropriate role models within the family (Browne 2011, pp. 84-85).
The conflict between tradition and modernity has affected family life leading to significant changes in the relationship between the family members. Globalisation, migration, mobility, and increasing inequality have affected family intimacy. Individualisation is another development that has affected the relationship between individuals. The use of modern technology such as computers, mobile phones, and the Internet has created a new culture, thereby contributing to a gap between the older and the younger generation. Alcoholism in the younger generation has increased the gap between younger and older generations. Same-sex marriage is another development, which has contributed to changes in family life. Cohabitation and absence of marriage have affected the children who lack appropriate parenting and role models. External forces have intruded into the family life, thereby affecting the traditional ties between the members of the family.
Browne, K 2011, An introduction to sociology, Polity Press, Cambridge.
Chambers, D 2012, A sociology of family life: Change and diversity in intimate relations, Polity Press, Cambridge.
Cohen, R. & Kennedy, P 2013, Global sociology, Palgrave Macmillan, Hampshire.
Holdsworth, C 2013, Family and intimate mobilities, Palgrave Macmillan, Hampshire.
Lindsay, J. & Maher, J 2013, Consuming families: Buying, making, producing family life in the 21st century, Routledge, Abingdon.
Nordqvist, P. & Smart, C 2014, Relative strangers: Family life, genes, and donor conception, Palgrave Macmillan, Hampshire.