Family: Perspectives, Answers

  1. Draw up a list of examples of people who live in households but do not constitute a family, either because there are too few people or because they are unrelated.
  2. Discuss what support people need in terms of their basic physical needs, emotions and economic supports.
  3. Describe ways that a family can assist these basic physical needs, emotions and economic supports?
  4. Imagine you are a New Right orientated cabinet in power. What policies might you imaginatively introduce to give support to the nuclear family and restrict other forms of family?
  5. Should married couples stay together for the benefit of the children when they might be considering separation or divorce? Give reasons for the answer.
  6. Suggest practical ways of support in which the better off do to help their children get an advantage in life.
  7. Toys vary between boys and girls. How?
  8. Consider how a family might vary its ambitions for the future of the children according to gender.

  • Single person
  • Friends sharing a mortgage
  • Students sharing a house
  • Builders sharing a house
  • A hostel of some kind
  • Community accommodation
2 People need:

  • Food, warmth, shelter
  • Friendship and love
  • Access to money to obtain essential goods and services
3 Families provide food and warmth in a home where they offer one another emotional love and comfort. They also share financial burdens and assets.
4 A New Right government might introduce tax and benefits policies to make marriage between a man and a woman more attractive. It would pay benefits for having children. It might actively discriminate against gay couples and other forms of families by restricting housing, adoption and helpful tax and benefits policies to heterosexual married couples.
5 Married couples staying together would continue to give emotional comfort to their children as well as sharing the costs of raising children; however, children may suffer from continuous arguments and a difficult atmosphere at home, and could adapt to seeing parents at different times.
6 Parents with plenty of money can pay for their children to go to expensive nurseries and then to well resourced public (privately run) schools.
7 Girls play with dolls and domestic items (like toy irons) and girls will push toy prams imitating mothers; boys may play with toy cars and imitation guns. In this way boys and girls are socialised into gender roles.
8 It is possible that boys may be considered for an uninterrupted career whereas the girl is seen at some part of her life to interrupt her career while she nurtures her children. Thus families may be more ambitious for the boy. This is of concern to feminists.

Some Specific Questions

  1. Explain what is meant by the term household. (2 marks)
  2. Identify and describe two types of family or household that can be found in Britain today. (4 marks)
  3. Explain why some sociologists prefer to use the term 'families' rather than 'the family'. (2 marks)
  4. Identify and describe two ways in which families may contribute to the well-being of members. (4 marks)
Questions from: Wilson, P., Kidd, A. (1998), Sociology for GCSE, London: Collins Educational, 118, 123.

1 Household simply means one or more people living at one address. When there is more than one they share facilities or at least a daily meal.
2 A household could be [followed by one of the following] and [followed by another one of the following].

  • A group of students sharing a house
  • Building workers sharing a house (e.g. abroad)
  • Nuclear (sometimes stereotypically cereal packet) family
  • Single parent family
  • Gay or lesbian (with or without children) family
  • Reconstituted (otherwise called jigsaw) family (where there are step children)
3 Some sociologists prefer to use the word families instead of family because of the different types in our society. These include nuclear (or cereal packet), single parent, gay (with or without children), reconstituted (or jigsaw) where there are step children.
4 Families contribute to the well-being of members by providing physical needs such as the home itself, food and warmth. They also provide emotional needs such as love, comfort, safety and security.


Click for Family: PerspectivesSource webpage for these questions


Adrian Worsfold