3. Discuss the role of ‘the family’ in reproducing social inequalities.
Family structure is an important instrument for the reproduction of class, race, gender and sexual inequalities. Income inequality has increased, and family structures have diversified. We can reason that family structure has developed an important apparatus for the reproduction of class, race and gender inequalities. With the review into studies of income inequality and the more modern family structure changes we can find a wide range of estimates of the correlation between family structure and its link to reproducing social inequalities. How does income affect single mothers and fathers?
Families and raising children
Families are the primary establishment for raising children and family experiences play an important role in the art of influencing children’s life likelihoods. It’s the first few vital years of a child’s life that play a vital role in how they are shaped in the world. In 1960, only six percent of children in the united states lived with a single parent, it’s a sign of the period that they lived in it reflects the mind-set of the people of that period it was looked down to have a broken marriage or have a child out of matrimony (Percheski, 2008) . Nowadays over fifty percent of all children are expected to spend some time in a single parent family home before the age of eighteen, it’s become a societal norm now as the majority of parents are unmarried. Single parent families typically a single mother is the more common, ‘Families have transformed dramatically since 1960, from widowed mothers to divorced mothers and most recently never married’ (Percheski, 2008). Since 1960, single motherhood and income disparity among families have been amplified. ‘Through the 1960’s, income disparity declined reaching historically low levels in 1969. After 1970, income inequality increased steadily through the 1970’s, levelled off in the late 1980’s increased rapidly again in the early 1990’s and levelled off at the end of the 1990’s. in contrast, single motherhood advanced continuously after 1960 (Percheski, 2008) . Palpably showing the link between social inequality and the rise of single mothers in society during the periods.
Single mothers in society
Increases in income inequality may lead to increases in single motherhood, particularly among the less educated women in society. Single motherhood in turn decreases intergenerational economic mobility by affecting children’s material resources, and the parenting they experience. The level of family structure transformation goes well outside the increase in single motherhood, with modification within as well as amongst the categories of single mothers and married parents. ‘Single mother families, as measured by census data, include lone mothers and cohabiting couples. By two thousand almost fifty percent of all nonmarital births were to a cohabiting mother’ (Percheski, 2008). Between one quarter and two fifths of children were expected to experience parental cohabitation during childhood another new scenario being introduced into the upbringing of children. Two parent married couple families have also become more diverse. ‘Between 11% of children now live with a step parent at some point during childhood’ (Percheski, 2008). Variations in family structure have not arose consistently across population subgroups instead there are perceptible modifications by race and education with growths in single motherhood most apparent among the most underprivileged groups. ‘Unmarried mothers account for nearly two in three births to mothers without a high school education but only nine percent of births to mothers with a high school education’ (Percheski, 2008). These educational variances in non-marital birth rates combined with modifications in divorce and remarriage rates produce a scenario in which children with mothers in the bottom educational quartile are almost twice as likely to live with a single mother at some stage during their life cycle as a child as children with a mother in the top quartile. Extremely strong relationship between low educational attainment and the likelihood of becoming a never-married lone mother (Lunn, Fahey and Hannan, 2009).
A large body of research indicates that living apart from a biological parent (typically the father) is associated with a host of negative outcomes that are expected to affect children’s future life affect children’s future life chances or ability to make up the income ladder. Children that grow up apart from their biological fathers score lower on standardized testing, report lower grades and view themselves as having less academic potential than children who grow up with both biological parents. Income inequality has led to delays in marriage among both advantaged and disadvantaged women, which should increase nonmarital childbearing all else being equal. It can also be argued that income inequality has led to delays in childbearing among advantaged women but not among disadvantaged women contributing to a separation of marriage and child bearing among the latter. Research shows that women experience earrings losses because they take time off work to care for the children and are penalized for this in the labour market. In contrast the evidence suggests that men either benefit or experience no charge in employment based on their parental status. Changes in family structure may contribute to the reproduction of gender inequalities in two ways. First, parenthood affects the employment of earnings much more strongly for woman than it does men. When parents live in the same house-hold, these changes in earnings and employment may off-set each other. Nevertheless, when they live in different households’ women lose only potential benefits from this type of knowledge. Despite the considerable changes in family structure since 1960, the share of single parents who are men has remained virtually the same. (Percheski, 2008)
Caretaking responsibilities for children also differ by family structure fathers spend less time with their children if they do not live in the same household with them leaving mothers in single-mother families, with more responsibility. This uneven distribution has two effects. Firstly, single mothers have less time available for work or leisure and more stress in coordinating and providing care for their children. Secondly, non-resident fathers miss out on the benefits of living with their children. Its also considered that men without children in the home are more likely to engage in risky behaviour, work less and have much lower incomes.
It’s common to hear that childhood itself is a 20th-century construct, and up to this point children were perceived as ‘little adults’, there previously was no distinction between adults and children. Children were expected to contribute to the household income and to the family. Historians like Professor Hugh Cunningham have sought to disprove this notion, demonstrating that childhood was seen as a distinct period of time from the Middle Ages on. However, there is a clear demarcation between the treatment of children today and those in, say, Victorian Britain. Childhood only existed for those from wealthy parents during the industrial time. It was only in recent times that emerged with compulsory schooling and eventual child labour laws, A hundred years ago, writes historian Heather Montgomery, it would have been acceptable for a child to work in a factory. Today the factory owner and parents would be prosecuted. She adds that children in the 21st century have fewer responsibilities than ever.