This question cam up as part of the families and households option in A level sociology paper 2 (topics in sociology), June 2017.
In the 1950s, most immigrants into the United Kingdom came from Commonwealth countries such as India and Jamaica. More recently, many immigrants have come from European countries such as Poland. May immigrants are young adults seeking work.
These migration patterns have affected household structures.
Applying material from Item C, analyse two ways in which migration patterns have affected household structures in the United Kingdom.
Answer (hints and tips)
Point one – has to be about the variation in Caribbean and Indian household structures… quite easy I think… Of course you could talk about both separately.
Point two – asks that that you talk about more recent structures, drawing on Polish immigration.
What kind of household structures could you discuss?
- Number of people in the household – so single person, or multiple occupancy.
- The relationships between the people in the household – married or not? Friends or families? Ages?
- Gender roles in those households – domestic division of labour
- Numbers of adults and children (e.g. single person households)
- Matrifocal/ Patrifocal household
- The relationships between people in one household and other households (maybe a useful way to demonstrated analysis)
- Generational variations…
So a potential answer might look like this:
Point one – focusing on Caribbean and Indian migration
- Caribbean households – 60% single parent families
- Link to male unemployment/ racism in society
- matrifocal households
- Contrast to Indian households
- Higher rate marriage/ lower rate divorce
- But later generations – divorce more likely
- Discuss Mixed race couples
Point two – focusing on European migration
Almost certainly less you can say about this! But as long as you’ve made the most of the previous point, you could easily get into the top mark band…
- Younger age structure
- More likely to have children and be married
- Higher proportion of married families with children
- Probably more shared-households – younger people without children sharing.
This is a pretty straightforward question on a sub-topic within demography on how migration has affected family life in the U.K. so absolutely fair enough to ask it as a question.
However, it does concern me that the AQA’s online specification explicitly directs teachers to really dated material, and most of the text books focus on this, while this exam question expects students to know about recent events relating to migration and the family which are neither on their online specification or in any of the major A level text books.
I think the AQA needs to relax it’s focus on that really dated material (the classic question on ‘Functionalism and the Family’ in the same paper is a good example of how students are expected to know in-depth this stuff from the 1950s) if it’s going to demand a more contemporary focus.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a contemporary focus, just all that dated material that was such a waste of time students learning (like Pahl and Volger FFS), just in case it came up. This is a real problem because it makes sociology lose credibility, undermining the discipline.
Critics might say this problem emerges from the fact that whoever sets the agenda for the AQA families and households syllabus is something of a timeserver who can’t be bothered to update the specification appropriately by cutting down all the dated material. They might cite as evidence for this the fact that the specification hasn’t really changed significantly in 30 years.