A Modest Disagreement : How A Changing Society Has Transformed The Family

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A Modest Disagreement: How a changing society has transformed the family
Dear Dr. Parsons:
I recently attended your talk in Boston and, while I was interested in much of what you had to say, I do have some notable points of disagreement. In your paper, which you co-wrote with Robert Bales (who was nowhere to be found at the talk) in 1955, you argue that the family is at a point of stability in the 1950s that you say will last. In doing so, you credit what you deem to be the new structure of family: with specific roles including a male breadwinner, along with a wife who stays at home and cares for the children. This claim, however, is questionable. By looking at the demographic composition of different familial combinations, one can see
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Chief amongst these are that families have two goals: in raising children and establishing solid and stable adult relationships (Parsons and Bales 1955). The way families achieved these goals was by establishing specific roles for each member of the family, specifically the two parents. This structure, with a man in the workforce and woman at home, was very prevalent in the 1950s. In 1960, according to Phillip Cohen (2014), 65 percent of children lived in homes with married parents where only the father was employed. At this point, with a majority of children living in such situations, it seemed valid to define families using these households. However, this household structure quickly fell out of prominence: by 2012, only 22 percent of children lived in such homes. The most common household type — 34 percent — involved married parents where both adults worked. With families now being arranged in such varied ways, it is more difficult to generalize about family structures as you and Bales do, Dr. Parsons (Cohen 2014: 2-3).
The nuclear, male breadwinner family is no longer as prevalent in society, but breaking down these numbers further proves even more illuminating in displaying the decreased prominence of such a structure in society as time passed. Andrew Cherlin (2010) points out trend after
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