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Nuclear Family and British Social Breakdown Essay

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Updated: May 25th, 2019


One of the biggest concerns of the contemporary British society is the issue society breakdown. This matter has attained the attention of not just sociologists and anthropologists but the general public as well. Many factors have been attributed to this social problem. Different theories have been fronted to explain the origin, causes and effects of this challenge.

As they say numbers do not lie. According to statistics, the probability of kids in the Great Britain not been raised by both parents is the greatest in the region, except of Belgium, Latvia and Estonia. As we speak only less than two thirds of children under the age of 14 are living in the same household with their biological parents. This research was carried out by Organization for Economic Development and Co-operation (OEDC).

The figures indicates that 68.9 per cent of kids under 14 live with both natural parents in United Kingdom while 70.7 of the same age bracket live with both parents in the United States, and 79.5 in France. These statistics form the basis of our critical discussion. In this paper we examine and explain the importance of nuclear family and its functions in British society. The paper goes ahead to elucidate whether the decline of nuclear family contributes to the wider British social breakdown.

Contrast and exploration of the nature and functions of the nuclear family with other family types or structures

Comparatively nuclear family demonstrates a couple of similarities and contrasts with other family structures. A brief description of nuclear family is that it be defined as a family that is composed of two sets of family members, parents and children, living together in the same home.

Interaction within family is usually unlimited and usually very personal. This can be depicted by the close conduct experienced from time to time such as sharing household utilities and facilities. Family members in a nuclear family are generally freer with each other and forms closer ties as compared to other types of family structure.

The core function of nuclear is basically supporting each other psychologically, socially, and economically. This comes handy when it comes to transacting vital undertakings such as inheritance of property where every member is expected to receive a share. In comparison to other family structures this exercise is less complex. In extended families such issues as inheritance can be termed as nightmare, this is probably because of the larger numbers.

Extended family is the other major type of family structure. It can be described as a family with more than parents and offspring. Sociologist have moved forward and tried to classify extended family as follows. First is the vertical extended family. This branch is made up of three or more sets such as grandparents, parents and children.

Secondly, the horizontal extended family. This family consists of cousins, aunts, and uncles. The last branch is modified extended, commonly referred as Michael Gordon, after his outstanding contribution. This branch is essentially made up of two or more nuclear families living separately.

One common distinguishing factor between nuclear and extended family is the level of sets representation in each of them. It is also clear that numbers do vary. Rarely will you find nuclear families with fewer people than extended family or vice verse. In terms of relationships, extended families have “weaker” relations as compared to nuclear family. In terms of functions the two differ a bit. In nuclear family the focus is primarily on the “immediate” members but in extended the focus spreads out to meet the needs of everyone in the household.

The other fast developing structure of family is single-parent family. As the name insinuates, it is composed of a single parent and children. From statistics, they are more female single parents as compared to male parents. Sometimes this family type is referred as a broken nuclear because often it is a result of broken nuclear family. Single-parent family can be contrasted with nuclear by the fact that in nuclear family both parents work together for the good of the children while in single-parent family only one parent is involved.

Advantages and disadvantages of nuclear family compared to other types of family unit

The nuclear family bears many advantages and as expected some downside also. To start off is the strength of privacy. Matters conducted within a nuclear family are more likely to be secret, confidential and private. Privacy is a key factor searched by most people because it brings the element of integrity and creation of personal space.

Financial stability is another most sought after factor in marriage and society. Nuclear family provides the most conducive environment for financial stability. Both parents are able to save, plan, and provide for the children. This makes the burden bearable for the parents and protects the children from unnecessary lack.

Another noticeable advantage of nuclear family is freedom, comfort and avoidance of stress. Nuclear family creates that environment that is more likely to be free from stress and strain. In a way, members find their way to enjoy their life without much interference from other “external” forces.

The disadvantage of nuclear family includes lack of support from the larger society in case of eventualities such as tragedy or death. More often, nuclear family tends to be “clogged” to itself and members might lack the “external” touch. This is might contribute to lack of social skills.

Possible influences of the ‘breakdown’ of society

The state of society breakdown can be contributed to many factors. For the purpose of this paper we shall discuss the following factors: Changes of family structure, career development and feminism. Changes in family structure can be attributed to the increasing threat of society breakdown. It is noticed that a fragmented family will yield to a fragmented society.

This is a source of concern to our society. The traditional family has been interfered with and now what we are witnessing is new forms of marriages and families. These new development have resulted to the sad reality of escalating rate of divorces. Notably since 1960, there has been a tremendous increase in divorces occurrences in the Great Britain.

Actually between 1961 and 1969 the number doubled and the same increase was recorded in 1972. The trend has continued to expand touching its peak at 1993 at 180,000. According to experts, some couples are more prone to suffer divorce. The group that married young and had children before the marriage or practiced cohabitation. The other vulnerable group is partners who have been married or gone through another divorce.

Career development is the other main contributor of society breakdown. Marriages and families generally demand a lot of time and resources. In the same tone, career development is taxing and consumes a lot of time. The strength and wisdom to balance the two has lead many people to choose forsaking marriage and family at the expense of developing their careers.

Holistically looking at it, at the end of the day it is the society that is hurt because this means compromise in other aspects. In such a case it is easier to cohabitate than to manage a family. It is easier and more prestigious to work towards job promotion than to sacrifice finances for the sake of family.

The other could be associated with broken society is the aspect of feminism. From the onset I must clarify that this aspect is not entirely wrong but only some parts which are misplaced. As we know it is the responsibility of women to be “homemaker” in the family. This is a noble task that requires a lot of humility and patience.

However, what are we seeing in the society? Women who are so agitated for their right such that they cannot simply be homemakers. The theory of feminism has good intentions but if addressed with wisdom then I am afraid it ends up doing more harm than good. A family needs both a man and a woman. The man is the head and woman supporting him. And together they form a nuclear family.

Restoration of nuclear family

Nuclear family is the most ideal family structure for restoration of the broken society. From the above discussion it is clear that the strengths outweigh the weaknesses. Restoration of nuclear family is a very possible mission. This could be achieved through carrying out programs encouraging especially the young people the significance of family and nuclear in this matter. This program could incorporate “success stories”, couples, families that have successful lived to enjoy the fruits of nuclear family.


From the above discussion it clear that decline in nuclear family is leading to the wider broken society in the current British society. In summary nuclear family plays a very strategic and vital role to the well being the society. This can be demonstrated by how much we, as the society, stand to gain if this family structure shall be restored. The following are the main contributors of the society ‘breakdown’ they include Changes of family structure, career development and feminism.

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