Parsons And Bales : Family Structure And Gender Roles

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In our current society, the average household must have two adults working full time to achieve economic stability and to at least have a chance at reaching the “middle class”. Parsons and Bales’ piece on family (written during 1955) is notable for being one of the first studies on family dynamics. Parsons and Bales expressed confidence that family structure will attain long term stability through universal “modern” reconfiguration which incorporated a nuclear family structure and gender role specialization. Although, specific socioeconomic conditions during the 1950’s permitted this family structure to work, by the 1980’s this organization of the family would prove unstable. Although, Parsons and Bales theory of the family made sense…show more content…
Parsons uses the family norms of the 1950’s to define the “ideal” family. Parsons praised the benefits of gender role specialization, implying that it would create spousal interdependence and thus marital stability. However, Parsons failed to recognize the flaws in his model and how external social conditions change and thus complicate his model of the family. It is important to understand Parsons and Bales’ model of the family because many social policies and economic practices still assume that American families should conform to the family structure described by Parsons. Parsons and Bales develop fundamental assumptions about 1950s society that allow them to build their model of the ideal “modern” family. The underlying assumptions are everchanging and not true of our current society and thus are the main reasons why the their model of the family is inefficient and unattainable. One assumption made is that the industrial economy is the significant force behind the emergence of the male breadwinning family. He failed to consider the social conditions that influenced the model’s prominence during the 50’s. Parsons had very little actual observations or statistics that supported the popularity of his model of the nuclear family. Rather, it could be argued that his theory was mostly based on speculation. Studies show that the nuclear family
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