Global Culture Industry by Lash and Lury, A Summary

In Global Culture Industry Lash and Lury argue that things have moved on since the days of Adorno and Horkheimer’s analysis of the culture industry and the Birmingham School’s critique:

‘we think that culture has taken on another, a different logic ,with transition from culture industry to global culture industry’.

‘What’s different was that in both 1945 and 1975 culture was superstructural, and resistance took place through ideology, representation and symbols, and people where confronted in their day to day lives with material objects from the economic infrastructure.’

‘Today (in 2005) cultural objects are everywhere – as information, communications, branded products, media products, financial and leisure services. Culture seeps out of the superstructure and comes to dominate both the economy and everyday life. Culture, which was previously a question of representation becomes thingified. In classical cultural industry, mediation was a question of representation, in global culture industry it is a mediation of things.’

Lash and Lury now outline seven basic differences between the days of the ‘culture industry’ (from at least 1950 to 1975) and today’s ‘global culture industry’

1. From identity to difference

  • The products (objects) of Adorno’s culture industry were determinant, in global culture industry they are indeterminate.

  • We have moved to a culture of circulation in which products circulate free from the intentions of their designers – products become transformed and thus value is added.

  • In culture industry, cultural products slotted its subjects into the nuclear family, thus reproducing capitalism, today global culture industry meets the reflexive individuals of informational capitalism (and is thus transformed).

  • Culture industry was about the production of identity, in global culture industry both production and consumption are about difference.

  • In culture industry, production took place in Fordist environments, in global culture industry it takes place in post-fordist and design intensive environments.

2. From commodity to brand

  • Commodities derive their value from their exchange value –their monetary value, their market value. Commodities are produced, they are all alike.

  • Brands only exist in relation to products and establish themselves across products. Their value is not determined by exchange value. Brands establish difference. A brand is a singularity, but an abstract singularity, your relationship to it matters.

  • Commodity production is labour intensive, brand production is design intensive.

  • Commodity is about use and exchange, brand is about sign-values and experience – about communication, it is ‘eventive’ (about doing and experiencing).

  • ‘Commodities work through a mechanistic principle of identity, brands through the animated production of difference, thus processes of invention are central to the brand’.

  • This is a regime of power which results in inequalities, disparities and deception rarely encountered in culture industry.

3. From representation to things

  • In culture industry, culture was commodified – mediation was predominantly through representation, but in global culture industry we have the mediation of things.

  • Today, media have become things they have use value and exchange value.

  • When media become things we don’t just read them, we do with them. EG sound in lifts, brands in branded spaces, movies becoming computer games.

  • Four products which are media become thing-like = Wallace and Grommt, Toy Story, Young British Artists and Trainspotting – these have intersected into daily life such that we can talk of ‘mediatization’, and ‘the industrialisation of culture’ (not just the commodification of culture) and we also have the culturification of media.

4. From the symbolic to the real

After a lengthy introduction based on the matrix Lash and Urry essentially say….

In the 1950s there was ‘harsh reality’ – work/ the street/ the family, in which people lived their lives, and ‘culture’ was experienced through sitting in front of the TV passively watching media products produced by other people, or may acting out these ‘escapist’ fantasies occasionally. Then we watched and interpreted culture.

Today, mediated culture (media products) are so fundamentally part of our lives, that they are inseparable from our day to day lived-reality – our family lives, our work and leisure time – reality (and the stuff of daily life) is invested with much more meaning – now we live (act out) through mediated culture, less passively just sitting and watching.

Or to give you the full version…

‘Horkheimer and Adorno’s classical culture industry worked through the symbolic, through daylight, the light of Enlightenment and other ideology, through the pleasure of the text, and of representation. Global culture industry is a descent of culture into the real: descent into the bowels, the brutality, the desert of the real. The real is more evolved than the symbolic. It is brutal, but a question less of body than of mind: bodies are merely energy sources for the mind’s real. The inner and under-ground space in which the human hacker-ships operate is the ‘service and waste systems of cities that once spanned hundreds of miles’ transmuted into ‘sewers’ at the turn of the twenty-first century. The real is brutal, a desert, a sewer, a waste-and-service system, below the subways, under the underground.’

‘Global culture industry occupied the space of the symbolic: global culture industry the space of the real. Culture industry is Hollywood’s dream machine, global culture industry brute reality. Global culture industry deals in simulation, but these escape the symbolic, escape representation, and as intensity, as hyperreality, enter a real in which media become things. The symbolic is superstructural: it is a set of ideological and and cultural structures that interpellate subjects in order to reproduce the capitalist economy and the (Oedipal) nuclear family. The real is not superstructural; it is not even structural. The real is base. It is in excess of the symbolic. This excess is abjected, spewed out downward through exit-holes into the desert of the real. For Georges Bataille (2000), the abjected was Marx’s lumpenproletariat, who made no contribution to the reproduction of capital. To be abjected into th real was to be ejected – out of the bottom (Bataill’s ‘solar anus’ of the symbolic space of form into the informe, the formlessness of the real. Global culture industry operates in this space of the real. In the symbolic, signification works through structures to produce meaning. In the desert of the real, signification works through brute force and immediacy. Meaning is no longer hermeneutic; it is operational, as in computer games – that is, meaning is not interpretative; it is doing, it is impact.’

5. Things come alive: bio-power

  • ‘Adorno’s commodities are atomistic, the global culture industry’s singularities are monads’.

  • Atoms are simplistic, monads complex, atoms mechanistic, monads self-organising and reflexive.

  • The self-transforming and self-energising monads of global culture industry are not mechanistic, but vitalistic.

  • H and A’s culture industry is a locus of power, a power that works mechanistically, through external determination of subjects. In global culture industry, power works vitalistically. Vitalist power is bio-power (Foucault, 1976).

  • Mechanistic power works through the fixity of being, vitalist or bio-power works through becoming and movement. Thus power leaves structures and enters flows.

  • Mechano-power ensures the reproduction of capitalist relations, and it works through a principle of identity, bio-power works through production. It is chronically productive.

  • If reproduction is tied to identity, production is tied to difference. It does not stop subjects from producing difference.

6. From Extensive to Intensive

Basically, in global culture industry internal reality (intellect, meaning, emotions) become more intertwined with external reality (property).

7. The rise of the virtual

  • The brand experience is a feeling… the experience of intensity.

  • Brands may embrace a number of extensities, but they are themselves intensities.

  • Brands in this sense are virtuals. As virtuals, they may be actualised in any number of products. Yet the feeling, the brand experience is the same.

  • In semiologial terms, brands are icons, and they need not be attached to objects at all, and this is one way in which contemporary power works.

  • In global culture industry, not only the media scape but also the city scape takes on intensive qualities. Contemporary culture is event-culture, it involves doing.

  • The episteme of global culture industry is metaphysical materialism, based on the materiality of the monad, the reality, as in matrix, of mind. This is matter as multiplicity, matter not as identity but as difference.

So there you go – In short, a very convoluted way of saying that the media is more important to social and economic life than it was in the past, so much so that media, rather than being used merely to represent ‘deeper’, social and economic ‘reality’ has become an integral part of that reality.

Chapter Two – Method: Ontology, Movement, Mapping


‘The method adopted from the start of this project was to ‘follow the objects’. We were self-consciously developing a sociology of the object.

Influences on their methods include:

First: The anthropology of material culture (eg Miller), especially the material culture of moving objects (eg Appadurai) ann Alfred Gell’s anthropology of art (who also influenced Miller).

Second: The sociology of science and technology – eg Latour, combined with ‘Media theory’ – especially Jean Baudrillard’s theory of the object and Paul Virilio’s analysis of vision and objects in movement.

None of the above thinkers see objects in mechanical or volumetric terms, not in positivist cause and effect terms, rather they see objects as a singularities.

Thirdly, taking seriously the notion of biography – following Gell, there should be an attempt to study the life-cycle, and to replicate the time-perspective of the actors, so in this case objects.

Fourthly – Gills Deleuze (which has probably triggered your BS detector, but bear with, bear with…) – basically focussing on surfaces and multiplicities, everything on the same level, with no notion of looking for ‘deeper causes’ behind what you see – seeing objects as interlinked with everything else and full of many potential trajectories. Not looking for causality behind the object, but focussing on the multiple potentialities of the object.

Fifthly, from economic sociology, Knorr Centina’s work on global microstructures – looking at how objects are oriented towards each other and thus animate global markets.


The methodology of ‘following the object comes’ principally from Appaduri. This is basically looking at the biography of the object.

The advantages of this are:

It focusses on the object in movement, looking at the transitions, rather than the ‘structural causes’, which is too static

It avoids the opposition between the global and the local.

It allows for a radical defamiliarisation with the notion of persons.

So how did they follow objects?

In the book, the authors looked at a number of different objects (a concept which also includes events and movements) – such as the films (and marketing/ products surrounding) Toy Story and Trainspotting, and The Euro 96 football event, amongst other things.

They basically ‘ found out as much as possible about them over as much time and in as many spaces as possible’ and to ‘experience’ the object from as many points of view as possible, because objects can only be experienced from a point of view.

They went to many cities

They interview over 100 experts – from different sectors associated with the objects – such as marketing/ distribution and, of course, audiences.

They looked at secondary sources such as trades magazines

They photographed the objects

Methodology revisited

They claim their method is neither Positivist or Phenemonological – it is objectual.

‘Our method does not assume a distinction between media and society; our assumption is instead that we live in a media society’. They are studying a ‘mediascape’.

The research involves ‘getting ontological with things’ – moving with the objects, subject and object becoming as one, a singularity.

This is different to getting to know things in an epistemological, Kantian sense – they don’t assume the researcher has a value free stand point, and they want to avoid the instrumentalist, calculating approach to researching objects of Positivism.

Instead, the researcher descends into the same reality as the objects he is studying, and so there is only transition, flow..

‘The ontological gaze penetrates. As the object moves out of the epistemological space of extensity, it enters a space of discontinuity, fluidity and excess; it becomes ec-static as an intensity. So this kind of research involves getting ontological with things’.

They then go onto claim that not only are they non-Positivistic in their approach, they are not Phenomenological either – because, unlike Phenomenologists who believe consciousness is different from the things it perceives, as far as they are concerned subjects, objects and investigators are all involved as both perceivers and investigators, all are engaged in sense-making.

The subjects and objects (and investigators) are not beings but becomings, which are constantly moving in media space. The method they think should thus be employed is thus one of ‘mapping’, and their perferred cartographic method dovetails with situationist pyschogeography, which requires a mobile researcher.

However, they depart from SP in the following ways:

They are looking at virtual space rather than urban space.

They are following the spectacle rather than creating it

They are less concerned with the effects of spectacles on the psychology of individuals and more focussed on developing a geography of intensities.

They are aiming for a tactile mapping of singularities, a multi-modal proprioceptive mapping.

All of this is necessary because objects are unclear, indistinct and abstract, which at times become clear, distinct, and concrete.

Comments – how useful is all of this?

On the plus side, the book and the analytical framework demonstrate how complex global consumption has become, and it helps us to understand the appeal of consumption – when you buy a product, or an event, you are buying into a ‘mediascape’ with multiple connectivities, embedding yourself into a complex, global set of interrelationships seemingly unlimited potentialities. It’s also worth pausing to reflect that this is very much the norm these days, or if not the norm, very much what we desire.

According to Lash and Lury, when you consume you become singular with the objects, and there is nothing deeper than the surface reality, no deeper layer which is having a causal effect on individuals. Thus the focus of research is on the unfolding of this surface reality.

This is the weakness in this book – there simply is an underlying reality that is required for all of this to happen – there is a set of social norms which requires that you ‘do things’ and ‘keep doing things’ in order to demonstrate that you belong, and this requirement to perform is coercive – not only the sense that the felt-need to do things prevents you from doing other things, but also because if your consumption practices require you to spend money, most of us need a job to engage in such event-based consumption.

So in short, the underlying, deeper reality which I think is missing is that of broad social norm of expressive-performativity (I’ve yet to decide what I want to call it) linked to consmuption which requires one to earn a living. Thus one is ‘structured’ or ‘limited’ in one’s actions by the array of performative demands one acquiesces to and the amount of money one earns.

By contrast to ‘ordinary life in the mediascape’ I’d suggest there are certain ‘movements’ which reject a life strategy of buying into mediascapes – Early Retirement, Permaculture, Buddhism (yes, they do overlap) for example… all tend to be much more focused on face to face relations with much lower levels of consumption, and aim to be much less ‘eventive’.

I also think this type of research Lash and Lury do is a total waste of time. The rest of the book takes an incredibly in-depth look at some of the products/ events mentioned above. In the chapter on The Euro 96 football event for example all the researchers do is to describe the companies involved in branding and marketing the event and how they are interconnected. Yes it’s complex, yes mediascapes exist,  yes when people ‘buy into’ these events they are participating in complex global flows, but so what, so what? I just don’t get the point of doing this research, and I certainly don’t get the point of people doing any further research like this.

Modernity, Postmodernity and The Family

Modernity, Postmodernity and The Family is one of the most difficult topics for students to get their heads around – The first thing to understand is that modernist social theories (Functionalism and Marxism) are OLD – and were theorising about the family over 50 years ago.

The second thing is that Postmodern theories aren’t really theories – they just think that structures have disappeared and so Sociology should go all journalistic and just sort of marvel at the diversity of family life. IMO Postmodernism is not really Sociology at all, it’s (lame) lifestyle journalism.

Anyway, it’s on the spec, the mind map below is an overview of how Modernity, Postmodernity and ‘theorising’ about the family all fit together. Use in conjunction with my other posts on Post and Late Modernism for more depth.

Click to enlarge/ Save

Modernity postmodernity Family

Related Posts

Postmodern perspectives on the family

The Postmodern Perspective on the Family

More individual freedom and choice means more family and life course diversity.

Postmodernists argue that recent social changes such as increasing social fragmentation, greater diversity and technological changes have made family more a matter of personal choice and as a result families have become more unstable and more diverse.

In postmodern society there is no longer one typical type of family such as the nuclear family, rather there is huge diversity of family types and it is no longer possible to make general theories about the role of the family in society like Functionalists and Marxists have done in the past.

Postmodernity, Social Change and the Family

During the later part of modernity (around 1850-1950) society was clearly structured along social class lines with clear gender norms and the nuclear family formed part of (what at least appeared to be) a stable social structure.

Since the 1950s we have seen a shift to a postmodern society which is more global, fragmented (fractured), culturally diverse, consumerist, media saturated, uncertain and in which individuals have more freedom of choice.

The changes associated with postmodernity since the 1950s have changed the nature of the family: now that people have more choices, families are less stable and more diverse.

Postmodernity and The Family mind map

How has postmodernity changed the family?

  • The rise of consumer culture and individual choice: people have come to expect choice over what goods they buy, and the same applies to relationships: people choose when or whether to go get into a relationship, whether to get married, and when or whether they break up.
  • Technological changes and media saturation – ties into the above in the form of online dating and hookup sites – which set up a new norm of relationships being like shopping: if you can’t find someone ‘just right’ then either don’t bother or find someone that will do for now and ditch them when someone who does tick all your boxes comes along! This might explain the rise of serial monogamy.
  • Changes to work: there are no more jobs for life in the factory and this has led to a decline in the male breadwinner role. People have to spend longer training for careers, and change jobs more often during their working lives. Work is more pressured today, and there is less time for relationships which means more single people and more relationship breakdowns.
  • Changing gender norms: gender identity is more of a choice today which means we have more LGBTQ chosen families and also more gender equality within families, which leads to more diversity
  • The decline of religion – there is less social pressure to get married and stay married, meaning higher rates of divorce, potentially more reconstituted families.
  • Globalisation – more immigration means more ethnically mixed marriage, more relationships across borders, even more diversity.
  • Rapid social change, risk and uncertainty: instability in society affects relationships: if one partner loses a job or has to move for a new job, it might trigger a breakup, also awareness of high rates of divorce and the challenges of relationships might put people off getting involved in the first place.

To summarise: the shift to postmodern society has meant more individual choice which means more family and household diversity in society naturally means more types of family, for example:

  • More people staying single.
  • More short-term serial monogamy type relationships.
  • More cohabitation rather than marriage.
  • more people regarding their friends and other fictive kin as part of their families (see the Personal Life Perspective for more details).
  • more ethnic diversity within families.
  • changing gender norms mean an increase in more LGBTQ chosen families.
  • Higher rates of divorce and more single parent households and stepfamilies.

Furthermore there is no longer one dominant family type (such as the nuclear family). This means it is no longer possible to make generalisations about the role of the (nuclear) family society in the same way that modernist theories such as Functionalism did.

The rest of this post now considers two specific post-modern thinkers about the family – Judith Stacey and Tamara Hareven.

Stacey (1998) “The Divorce-Extended Family”

Judith Stacey argues that women have more freedom than ever before to shape their family arrangement to meet their needs and free themselves from patriarchal oppression. Through case studies conducted in Silicon Valley, California she found that women rather than men are the driving force behind changes in the family.

She discovered that many women rejected the traditional housewife role and had chosen extremely varied life paths (some choosing to return to education, becoming career women, divorcing and remarrying). Stacey identified a new type of family “the divorce-extended family” – members are connected by divorce rather than marriage, for example ex in-laws, or former husband’s new partners.

book cover: judith stacey family

Hareven (1978) “Life Course Analysis”

Tamara Hareven advocates the approach of life course analysis, that is that sociologists should be concerned with focusing on individual family members and the choices that they make throughout life regarding family arrangements.

This approach recognises that there is flexibility and variation in people’s lives, for example the choices and decisions they make and when they make them. For example, when they decide to raise children, choosing sexuality or moving into sheltered accommodation in old age.

Supporting evidence for the postmodern perspective on the family

Increasing family diversity

The 2022 Children’s Commissioner’s Family Review certainly supports the postmodern view that families are becoming more diverse over time. The review reports that family structure has gradually changed over the last 20 years: 

  • There are fewer married couples. 
  • There are more couples cohabiting.  
  • There are fewer ‘traditional’ nuclear family units today. 
  • 44% of children born at the start of the century, were not in a nuclear family for their full childhood, compared to 21% of children born in 1970.  
  • Over 80,000 children are in care, and many more in less formal arrangements, including kinship care. 

Stacey Dooley Sleeps Over is a recent documentary series exploring the diversity of family life in the UK. Most of the families are not nuclear families, but even those that are have non-standard lives, so even within the nuclear family set up, there is diversity!  

Marginalised Families is a website where people in diverse family structures can share their stories. It is designed to give more voice to non-nuclear families and provides some interesting case studies in family diversity.

More people are choosing to stay single than ever (5), but they are not isolated or lonely. In fact single people are more social than people in nuclear families and tend to have a broader conception of the family: in which they include friends, neighbours and ex-partners, thus challenging traditional definitions of the family.

(5) The Conversation (2017) More people than ever before are single and that’s a good thing. See also Bella de Paulo for the benefits of being single r

Low levels of belief in marriage

According to a 2022 YouGov Survey – does marriage matter 63% of UK adults think marriage is an outdated institution, although this is up from 68% in 2019.

Only 22% of the UK population thinks it matters that people are married before they have children: YouGov survey (2023) does marriage and children matter?

Criticisms of Postmodern Views on the Family

Late-Modernists such as Anthony Giddens suggest that even though people have more freedom, there is still a structure which shapes people’s decisions about the family.

Postmodernists over emphasise the amount of choice people have when it comes to relationships. However in truth, most people want to be in a stable long term relationship, but the social pressures of late modern life make this impossible for many to sustain. Thus people don’t ‘choose’ to get divorced or stay single as such, life just sort of pushes them into these ‘decisions’.

Contemporary Feminists disagree with Postmodernism, pointing out that in most cases traditional gender roles which disadvantage women remain the norm.

Signposting and Related Posts 

This post has been written primarily for students studying the families and households option in their first year of A-level sociology.

Related posts include:

The Personal Life Perspective on the Family.

The Late Modern Perspective on the Family.

Both of the above criticise the Postmodern perspective for over-emphasising the degree of personal choice individuals have, while still recognising that social changes have indeed made family life more chaotic!

If you like this sort of thing, you might also like these revision videos on YouTube.

Please click here to return to the homepage –

Late modern perspectives on the family

The pure relationship and the negotiated family become the new family norms. Choice but within structure.

Late-Modernists such as Anthony Giddens and Ulrich Beck recognise that people have more choice in terms of their relationships and family arrangements,  but do not believe that people are as free as postmodernists suggest. There are still underlying patterns, and shared experiences of relationships that are a consequence of our living in a ‘late-modern’ society – rather than families just being diverse and random.

For example, people are less likely to get married because of structural changes: gender equality means that both partners have to work and spend longer building their careers, which means the average person has less time to spend making a relationship work, which means a decline in marriage, and an increase in divorce.

Ulrich Beck also argues that fewer people getting married is because of an increase in ‘risk consciousness’ – people see that nearly half of all marriages end in divorce and so they are less willing to take the risk and get married.

This is not simply a matter of freedom of choice – people are ‘reflexive’ – they look at society, see the risk of marriage, and then choose not to get married – their personal decisions are informed by what they see going in society.

Beck also talks of individualisation – a new social norm is that our individual desires are more important than social commitments, and this makes marriage less likely.

Giddens builds on this and says that the typical relationship today is the Pure Relationship – one which lasts only as long as both partners are happy with it, not because of tradition or a sense of commitment. This makes cohabitation and serial monogamy rather than the long term commitment of a marriage more likely.

Giddens’ and Beck’s perspectives on the family are briefly summarised below.

Anthony Giddens: Choice and Equality

Giddens argues that in recent decades the family and marriage have been transformed by greater choice and a more equal relationship between men and women.  Giddens argues that relationships are now characterised by three general characteristics:

  1. The basis of marriage and family has changed into one in which the couple are free to define the relationship themselves rather than simply acting out roles that have been defined in advance by law or tradition. For example, couples today can chose to cohabit rather than marry.
  2. The typical relationship is the ‘pure relationship’….It exists solely to meet the partners’ needs and is likely to continue only so long as it succeeds. Couples stay together because of love, happiness of sexual attraction rather than tradition a sense of duty or for the sake of the children.
  3. Relationships become part of the process of self-discovery or self-identity trying different relationships become part of establishing who we are part of our journey of self discovery.

However Giddens notes that with more choice, personal relationships inevitably become less stable and can be ended more or less at will by any partner! Joy! For example most teenagers (57%) think that their relationships will only last 1 year and only 2% of relationships at 18 will progress to marriage’

Ulrich Beck: The ‘Risk Society’ and The Negotiated Family

Ulrich Beck puts forward a similar view to that of Anthony Giddens. Beck argues that we now live in a ‘risk society’ where tradition has less influence and people have more choice. As a result we are more aware of risk (we have developed a ‘risk consciousness’) because having choice means we spend more time calculating the risks and rewards of different courses of action available.

Today’s risk society contrasts with the modern society of the past with its stable nuclear family and traditional gender roles. Beck argues that even though the traditional patriarchal family was unequal and oppressive, it did provide a stable and predictable basis for the family by defining each member’s role and responsibly. However the patriarchal family has been undermined by two trends.

  1. Greater Gender Equality – which has challenged male domination in all spheres of life.  Women now expect equality both at work and in marriage.
  2. Greater individualism – where people’s actions are influenced more by calculations of their own self-interest that by a sense of obligation to others.

These trends have led to the rise of the negotiated family. Negotiated families do not conform to the traditional family norm, but vary according to the wishes and expectations of their members, who decided what is best for them by discussion. They enter the relationship on an equal basis.

However, the negotiated family may be more equal, but it is less stable, because it is characterised by greater equality.

Evaluating Late Modern Perspectives on the Family

There is a lot of sociological evidence that supports the view that there is still a social structure which shapes families, that people don’t have 100% freedom to make choices about families, and a lot of evidence that families require a lot of negotiation to work.

The dual earner household is the norm

There has been an increase in dual earner households. Between 2003 to 2013 the proportion of families with dependent children in which both parents worked full time rose from 26% to 31%, a significant increase in just 12 years. (1).

In 2022 95% of fathers were in work and 75% of mothers (either full or part time), both percentages have increased since the year 2002, especially working mothers, up 10% points in 20 years. This really does mean the dual-earner household has become the norm….

graph showing dual earner households from 2002 to 2022

Older people not wanting to get married….

60% of Britons aged 18-35 say they want to get married, but this figure has declined to just 11% for those aged over 55 (2). This implies that people start off wanting to get married, but that 30 to 40 years of life experience batters them into deciding that marriage is a bad idea, against their youthful optimism. This isn’t the same as simply ‘choosing to not get married’, something happens to change people’s attitudes over the life course…

bar charts showing proportions of people who want to get married in the UK in 2022: 60% of 18-34 year olds want to get married, but only 11% of 55s and over.

Young people feel social pressure to get married

Young people don’t themselves value traditional family structures such as marriage, but still feel under social pressure to get married according to a Relate Milestone Survey of 2000 people carried out in 2022.

Only 27% of Gen Z and 38% of millennials say that marriage is important to them, but 83% of Gen Z and 77% say the feel social pressure to reach life milestones such as getting married, having children and buying a house, with marriage being the number one milestone they feel under pressure to achieve.

This shows some support for both the Late Modern and Personal Life view that while people have diverse views of family life, they are not completely free of social norms when they make choices about their own personal relationships.

Negotiated families

A good example that supports the Late Modern perspective on relationships is this article in Psychology Today: How Much Time do you need to dedicate to your relationship? Part of the advice is to have a periodic check-in with each other about where the relationship is going – which means ‘negotiating’ the relationship!

NB that is just one article, there are SEVERAL like this on all sorts of websites.

The Scottish Government (3) has an advice site for how to involve young people more in decision making (based on U.N. guidelines). Part of this is advice to families, which suggests parents are spending time thinking about how to negotiate relationships with with children.

This Co-Parenting Guide is an interesting example of helping people to negotiate change in a relationship. It offers advice on how to include in-laws in children’s lives after a divorce. This kind of ‘expert advice’ online is very late modern.

Signposting and Related Posts 

This material is primarily relevant to the families and households module within A-level sociology, it is closely related to The Postmodern Perspective on The Family.


(1) 2018: The Modern Families Index UK

(2) YouGov (2022) Do Britons Still Want to Get Married?

(3) Scottish Government: Decision making and Young People’s Participation

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