This sample paper on 1950s Family offers a framework of relevant facts based on recent research in the field. Read the introductory part, body, and conclusion of the paper below.

A revolution has taken place in family life since the ‘Golden Age’ of the 1950s. The traditional, nuclear family consisting of a husband, wife and dependent children has transformed itself into the modern family of the 21st century, which takes on a wide variety of contemporary forms. These changes in family structure have produced alarm, anxiety, and apprehension.

Married men are no longer fully responsible for their wives and children. This essay will outline the features of the traditional family of the 1950s, while using Weber’s theory of patriarchal power to support this analysis. This will be followed with a description of the contemporary family, the changes that have taken place, also referring to Weber’s theory of power to support some of these claims.

Patriarchal power is by far the most important type of authority within the traditional family, the legitimacy of which rests upon tradition.

Patriarchalism means the authority of the father or the husband. This authority was accepted both by women and children without contestation. Women’s place was in the home, caring for the children and the domestic responsibilities. The husband’s role was that of ‘breadwinner’, the economic provider for the family. Women and children were dependent on men. The inequality of men and women was intrinsic to the traditional family. In the traditional family, it wasn’t only women who lacked rights – children did too.

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Identify The Structural Features Of 1950s Society That Made The “traditional Family” Possible.

The traditional family of the 1950s supports Weber’s theory of patriarchal power. Weber sees power as top-down and visible, just as his theory of bureaucratic power. However, the power of the father is taken for granted, it is traditional and undisputed. There is evidence of this within the traditional nuclear family, where it was the accepted ‘role’ of the husband to provide financially for his wife and children. There is also evidence of this outside the family, where women could not be carers for the family and be accepted into the labour market at the same time. One was exclusive of the other.

Despite the conservative efforts to hold on to the heterosexual unit of marriage where the father is the head of the healthy family, there have been fundamental changes in the institution of the family and the placement of authority in recent decades. Now, at the beginning of the 21st century, only a minority of people live in what might be called the standard 1950’s family. In the UK today, 20% of all children are living in one-parent families, most of which are mothers. There has also been a huge rise in divorce figures and in cohabitation, where couples live together with their children without being married. It is normal for women to work outside the home, either full time or part time. Sexuality, which used to be defined so strictly in relation to marriage and legitimacy, now has little connection to them at all. This shows huge diversity and change since the 1950s, where these opportunities did not exist.

However, along with this change and diversity, there is also a pattern of continuity. 79% of all children are still born into two parent families. The majority of women only work part time until their children are finished school. Men are still higher earners than women and therefore provide financial support to the family. Women, although many of them are working outside the homes, are still responsible for domestic chores and the raising of the children.

Feminists would argue that this family patriarchy has been replaced with public patriarchy, where women are still in lower paid employment and treated as inferior in society and in the home. They see the family as an institution with specific roles for women and men. Weber’s analysis of authority can also be seen if we look at the ordering of families today. The power of social workers and health visitors who monitor the skills of mothers and fathers as parents gives them the opportunity to decide the future of the family. Likewise, the social workers in the UK have had reported more problems with African Caribbean families than any other ethnic group. This could be due to presumptions that these families create more problems and therefore there is more attention paid to their abilities as parents.

There is perhaps more nostalgia surrounding the lost haven of the family than for any other institution with its roots in the past. Politicians and activists frequently comment on the breakdown of family life and call for a return to the traditional family. It can be seen from above that there is both continuity and change within the ordering of the family, and whilst Weber’s theory of patriarchal power was evident in the family life of the 1950s, it is still evident today in state legislation, which does not promote the independency of the female.

Since the 1980s the UK has seen the rise of welfare consumerism. Account for this, drawing on more than one political ideology in your answer.

Since the 1980s, the issues of the welfare state in the UK around consumption have become central to programmes of policy reform and reorganisation. There has been a shift from the classic welfare state of 1945, which came from social democracy to the new welfare state of the 1980s and 1990s, which draws on liberalist values and objectives, where the client of the old welfare state is now the consumer with individual choice. Recently, there has been the light of a ‘third way’, incorporating ideas from both social democracy and liberalism. This essay will describe the changes in the welfare state since the 1980s, drawing on above mentioned political ideologies as well as those of feminist and marxist ideologies to illustrate how these changes came about.

The government claims that the welfare state has to move from a ‘command and control’, ‘one size fits all’ model towards greater choice, flexibility and diversity. The post-war welfare state introduced social benefits for the sick and elderly. It saw the creation of the NHS, which was free to all at user-end, there were greater unemployment benefits along with free schooling and higher pensions. This welfare model involved three main groups of people. Professionals defined the nature of welfare services. Bureaucratic authority, which coordinated welfare services, and clients who were passive and dependent, without any say in how the social services were provided.

This welfare state underwent much criticism from Marxists and feminists as well as liberalists. Marxists believed that the welfare state worked in favour of capitalism. Feminists argued that the welfare state restrained women from acquiring social equality and promoted the role of mother-carer and domestic housewife. Since the 1980s, there has been a huge change in power relationships. The criticisms of liberalists that the state reduces the autonomy of the individual created a change in the new welfare state.

Replacing the professionals was what became known as welfare managers, and replacing the client-citizen was the welfare consumer. The government gave more responsibility to the individual, the unemployed were encouraged to find their own jobs, the government promoted self responsibility and autonomy, people were encourages to set up their own pensions. In education there has been a rise of parental choice in all levels of provision and in healthcare a promotion of the patient’s choice under the present government. The consumer was now a choice maker. Individuals must calculate privately their own risks and opportunities. However, this form of welfare consumerism leaves the poor vulnerable. And although the aims of this new welfare state was to save money, there has still been high expenditure on welfare.

Since the mid 1990s there has been an effort to create a new welfare state known as the ‘third way’. This is an attempt to combine the best elements of the social democrats and liberalists. This is associated with Tony Blair’s new labour government. The idea is to maintain the liberalist idea of welfare consumerism, where the individual can exercise autonomy and have ‘rights with responsibilities’. Those who are unemployed for example are compelled to get back into work, often being forced to take jobs that do not suit them, and suffering benefit losses if they refuse. The new labour government in its efforts to create this ‘third way’ supports the ideas of liberalism by promoting the individual, the consumer and giving power to the people. On the other hand there is also a resonance of the social democratic welfare state, where the state is not a big state but an enabling state. It is still the state that has the power to order lives. This echoes the Weberian analysis of power where the underlying structures of power are not really affected by change.

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1950s Family. (2019, Dec 06). Retrieved from

1950s Family
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