Post and Late Modern Perspectives on The Family – A Comparison

The Postmodern View of Family/ Personal Relationships

  • The fact that we see a dazzling array of personal, intimate relationships and family forms is an expression of post-modern society.
  • Postmodern relationships are much more complex because of hyperreality (think Tinder) and because of leisure – this is generally to be celebrated because relationships (and sexuality) are now much more about fun rather than duty.
  • A postmodern view would celebrate the new freedoms surrounding postmodern relationships – based on choice and leisure – as this is a move away from the oppressive norms of the traditional nuclear family.

The Late Modern View of Family/ Personal Relationships

  • Developing stable relationships becomes more difficult in late modern society because relationships becomes a matter of choice.
  • The root cause of this is that the ‘new norm’ is for people to ‘use’ their relationships as a means of constructing their own identities. ‘My needs’ come first, the relationship comes second.
  • Two generic forms of ‘typical relationship emerge’ – The Pure Relationship (based on ‘confluent love’) and the Negotiated Family.
  • These are typically characterised by greater equality but more instability (hence high divorce) – new structures emerge to help people through relationship breakdowns.
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