The March of Progress view argues the family has become more child centred. Evidence for this is that there are more social policies protecting children. Parents also spend more time with and more money their children today.
Evidence against this view includes the rise of toxic childhood and Postman’s theory that childhood is disappearing.
The essay plan below has been written to help students revising for the families and households topic within A-level sociology.
The family is more child centred: arguments and evidence for
The view in the question is associated with the ‘March of Progress view’ of childhood – that society and the family have both become more child centred.
- Point 1 – Child welfare policies protect children in the family – Laws prevent them from working, children MUST go to school, children have rights, social services can intervene if necessary. Evaluation – It is possible to interpret these laws as preventing the family from being more child centred – e.g. compulsory schooling.
- Point 2 – Adults have fewer children – This enables them to spend more time with each child. The amount time parents spend with children has increased in recent decades. Evaluation – This is not true for all families – Many parents, especially fathers work long hours and cannot see their children.
- Point 3 – Parents spend more time with their children. Analysis– Sociologists such as Furedi suggest this is a negative side of the ‘child centred’ family – Helicopter parents, cotton wool kids who are dependent and anxious – resulting in Kidults.
- Point 4– Parents spend more money on their children. Evaluate using inequalities/ Marxism.
Arguments and evidence against the view that the family is more child centred
- Point 1 – Sue Palmer argues that the family isn’t child centred because of toxic childhood. This is where rapid social and technological changes have led to children being harmed – e.g. fast food/ computer games/ long hours worked by parents.
- Point 2 – Neil Postman argues that childhood is disappearing.
- Point 3 – Conflict theorists point out there is a ‘dark side’ of family life for some children.
- Point 4 – Higher rates of divorce suggest the family is not child centred.
- Point 5 – Changing roles for women suggests women are less focussed on their children. Evaluation – The New Right would suggest this is a negative development, but Feminists argue that this means positive role models for girls growing up with working mothers
While parents and society like to think of the family as being more child centred, and where this is the case, it is not at all clear that this is a good thing. Moreover, there is considerable evidence that this is not the case – Changing women’s roles, new technologies, government polices all seem to work against child centredness. The view in the question is far from the last word on this topic.
A Level Sociology Families and Households Revision Bundle
If you like this sort of thing, then you might like my AS Sociology Families and Households Revision Bundle which contains the following:
- 50 pages of revision notes covering all of the sub-topics within families and households
- mind maps in pdf and png format – 9 in total, covering perspectives on the family
- short answer exam practice questions and exemplar answers – 3 examples of the 10 mark, ‘outline and explain’ question.
- 9 essays/ essay plans spanning all the topics within the families and households topic.
For more advice on exams and essay writing see my page on essay writing and exam advice!
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