“How important are kinship ties in industrial societies” Essay

In small pre-industrial societies people rely on kin to meet most of their everyday need. The functional significance of kinship tends to decline in industrial societies where people distinguish between close relations who interact regularly and typically live together, and distant relatives, among whom there is often little social contact. Each individual belongs to a family irrespective of the type.

It occurs that with a change in society so culminates a deviation in the social relationship between members of the nuclear family and their kin.Here we will discuss the importance of kinship ties in an advanced industrial society which involves the assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of such an association. We will also examine kinship ties in a pre-industrial society to show its uses back then thus illustrating its usefulness or lack thereof in an advanced industrial society. The family and kinship relations generally existed to organize principals of social life.This association between family members of common ancestry or a type of kinship group known as a lineage and also those in an extended family, they produced goods and services together, the profits being shared among them. Many behaviors are shaped by our status as kin for example uncles take up the responsibility of caring for kin in the occurrence of the death of the children’s father.

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Kinship ties were needed as a means of survival that is in pre-industrial societies. Pre-dominantly isolated nuclear families are found in advanced industrial societies, this was found by Parsons and Bale in 1955.He believed that they are structurally isolated due to their lack of involvement with kin; as such associations are merely a matter of choice rather than an obligation. Nuclear families according to Parsons propagated as a result of specialized institutions such as firms, churches, schools and hospital taking over many functions of the family.

Thus the family is no longer a unit of production as industrialization took over such functions occupied by the families in pre-industrial societies.To some extent, that is, economically, kinship ties are no longer needed between families in advanced industrial societies. Parsons noted that the nuclear family is a contributor to society’s social system as it aids society’s integration and harmony. He argues that his family structure is suited to meet the needs of the economic system in an advanced industrial society. This being state d as these systems require a great deal of geographic mobility from its labour force. Such mobility would have been a difficulty if the family had any relations to their kin.

Some of Parson’s counterparts such as Sussman and Burchinal tend to believe that one should spurn Parson’s concept of the isolated nuclear family. They claim that there is an extensive body of work negating such a theory (Sussman and Burhinal, 1971). In response to such Parsons argued in an article entitled “The normal American family” (Parsons 1965a), that relationships beyond the bonds of the nuclear family are not absolute difference to the premise of the isolated nuclear family. Further noting that such an occurrence would make the concept of the nuclear family to which the individual was reared in is implausible.Kinship ties outside of the nuclear family are a matter of individual choice, aid is seeked to certain degrees. Hence they do not form firmly structures units. Such is supported by Rosser and Harris Swansea’s research.

They believe the nuclear family is the basic structured unit of society and that although kinship ties aid relatives it only aids society minimally. (Rosser and Harris, 1965). However in some case kinship ties have shown to be important in advanced industrial societies.Bell has found that parents in middles class families support their children du ring early years of marriage in forms of loans and other expenditures. Similarly Allan (1985) who carried out the research in an East Anglia village found that thee was little difference in middle-class and working-class kinship ties. There was found to be a positive concern for kin regardless of the frequency of face to face contacts. This view was further supported by Peter Wilmott (1988) who observed that those ties were also still of little relevance in both the middle and working class in London.

He noted that despite the fact that about a third of the couples had moved away from the district and thus their parents, who in some cases lived far with only a small percentage living close, ties still existed between couples and parents, sometimes weekly. Working class couples saw their relatives more frequently than did those of the middle-class Wilmott demonstrated that kinship ties play a great importance in advanced industrial societies as he explained that relatives were still found to have been the primary ones providing support and care for each other.Statistics from his study point out that seventy five percent had relatives who babysitted for them and eighty percent got financial aid from relatives when it was needed. Here kinship ties are seen to have provided support both emotionally and financially, these were voluntary acts amongst relatives. However an analysis of the British Social Attitudes Survey of 1986 and 1995 by Francis Mc. Glone, Allison Park and Kate Smith (1998) observed that the government has tried to get kin to partake in providing aid in looking after children so as to help decrease on the effects of poor parenting.Therefore if relationships with kin were not seen as having a good effect on the family in the child rearing practices mentioned above, would not be encouraged by the government.

In the same survey the importance of kinship ties in Mc. Glone’s analysis was found that persons would rather turn to a spouse or parents for aid in maters such as household and garden jobs and support during illness. Although they would prefer financial aid from other relatives than a bank.Not only is the importance of kinship ties shown in its practical help, also a vast majority of individuals that is seventy percent believe that persons should stay in close contact with family members not only because of their uses to them, even though little similarities among them can be found. (Mc. Glone et al). In conclusion it has been shown that many of the researchers mentioned in this essay have come to broadly similar conclusions.

They all observed that ties outside the nuclear family are still important, although it may not be necessary in every situation.Just like Allan (1985) said, contacts made in kinship ties may not be of great significance but family members still felt the obliged to make contact with each other. Wilmott noted also as he found the nuclear family to be partially dependent on kin that is extended kin, as a majority of the times they worked on their own.

Noting further that people valued these ties as they still maintained them even though they lived far from each other. Hence we have been clearly shown that kinship ties still maintain some importance in advanced industrial societies.


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