What is the Debate about Family Diversity? Sociology of the New Right and Families and Households
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Sociologists compare the diversity (variety) of contemporary family and household structures with the conventional family. This is also known as the cereal packet, cornflake or Oxo family, based on the image advertisers often show of married couples where the father is a breadwinner and the wife at home looking after two children.
This type of nuclear family, where biological parents care for their children, was never as common as we might think. In previous centuries, many families were shattered by early deaths or desertion, so that one-parent and step-families were by no means rare.
However, the increase in divorce and the ease with which people cohabit and then separate has led to a change in the proportions of types of families with dependent children.
In 2011 about 62% were headed by a married couple or civil partnership, 24% by a lone parent, 14% by a cohabiting couple and a tiny proportion by a same-sex couple. The average number of children in each type was two.
By 2017, there were 12.9 million married or civil partner couple families in the UK in 2017. This remains the most common type of family.