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Example Answers for AQA GCSE Sociology Paper 1 - Family (2019)


Last updated 28 May 2019

Here are some example answers to the written questions on Family in AQA GCSE Sociology Paper 1 (2019).


According to Functionalists, such as Parsons one function of the family would be act as an agent of primary socialisation, so the children understand the social norms and values. This could include teaching their children manners so they know how to behave in society and maintain social cohesion.


Marxists, such as Zareksy believes the family fails to meet the psychological and social needs of the individual. In fact, the family instead supports the needs of capitalism by supporting capitalism, as women act as free domestic labour and reproduce the next generation of exploited workers.


Structured interviews – the respondents will all be ask the same set questions in a structured which will make the research both fair and reliable. The data produced is reliable because the same set of questions are repeated to a large sample; as a result, the research is representative and trends can be drawn.


The table shows that women do most of the laundry, housework and the slight majority of the expressive roles. According to feminists, such as Oakley, women are socialised into these gender stereotyped roles by their own experience of primary socialisation, e.g. girls may traditionally help their mum with housework and boys will help their dad with DIY. In addition, through primary socialisation, the toys children play with, such as girls playing with babies, will further reinforce gender stereotypical roles, such as the expressive role in girls.


Structured interviews are at risk of being slightly insensitive and impersonal in their design, as they are straightforward closed questions, where respondents have little room to elaborate or build a rapport with the researcher. The disadvantage could be, respondents may feel they would not like to fully participate with the research, as they would not want to open up about their personal relationship in a structured interview, as they may have not developed a rapport with the researcher.


According to Item B, feminist Oakley used a review of previous research, known as secondary research. Her research found that the conventional nuclear family – mum, dad, married, children living together performing traditional conjugal roles - tended to be a unit of social control, strain and oppression. She found this was an outdated way for families to live and she saw signs that there was a move away from the conventional nuclear family, such as living in different family types such as cohabiting and living alone. Her work pre-dates civil partnerships and same-sex marriages.


It is important that a researcher provides the respondent with the right to withdraw, as investigating arranged marriage might be a sensitive and personal subject. Some respondents may feel the researcher is prying into their personal life and making a judgement, as arranged marriage is still not fully understood by many in society as there are assumptions around arranged marriage and is wrongly often confused with forced marriage, so the sociologist needs to be sensitive to this.


Functionalists, such as Parsons would agree the family is the main agent of primary socialisation and stabilisation of adult personality. The family is responsible for teaching norms and values, such as manners and preparing children to leave the home to go to school where secondary socialisation takes place through the hidden curriculum. Arguably, the family is the main agent of socialisation, as this is the first place children will learn and is where the foundations of learning social norms and values will take place. Feminists would also agree, although they would suggest this has a negative outcome, as gendered parenting would set the basis for gender socialisation, for example, parents act as gendered role models. However, it could also be argued in both cases that secondary socialisation at school has a bigger impact on socialisation, as peers / hidden curriculum are able to change / adapt children’s norms and values. This is because secondary socialisation happens on a bigger scale and some children will want to conform to the majority, so family is less significant as an agent of socialisation compared with schools.

Alternatively, arguably the media is now the main agent of socialisation, as social media is more influential on children’s norms and values, as it is constantly accessible and many children will look at celebrities as role models. Media is also at children’s control as they may have their own phones and they may feel it is more up-to-date than their parents / family. This can be supported by the rise of digital parenting, where parents may use websites / videos online / TV to babysit their children rather than parents themselves. In criticism of the media being the main agent of socialisation, families still are the foundations of any further secondary socialisation and control media usage.

To conclude, arguably the family is still important, but it depends on the dynamics and the relationships children might have with their parents. However, it is evident there are many agents of socialisation, not just the family, but also schools, media and religion.


Functionalists, such as Parsons, as well as New Right theorists, would argue that the nuclear family is still important for performing conjugal roles and primary socialisation of children, as this is the most stable family type. This type of family, according to these theories, can offer emotional and economic support, as the dad would act as the breadwinner and the mum would act as the care giver. For functionalists and the New Right, this can only happen successfully with married parents. Many sociologists such as feminist Oakley, and Rapoport and Rapoport would suggest this is outdated, as there is an increase in family diversity and that increasingly families are moving away from the conventional nuclear family, as it is perceived to be more controlled for women, due to stereotypical gender divisions.

It could be argued that marriage is no longer important but the nuclear family is important, with the rise of cohabitation, this due to the increased securlarisation, confluent love, change of stigma around not marrying and couples preferring to spend their savings on a house. It is argued that a cohabiting family have the same rights over children and ownership as married couple, so marriage is less important. However, it might be that marriage is still important as many religious families still value marriage; also same-sex marriage is on the increase. Also marriage might be seen as important, it is just that people are choosing to marry later.

Overall, marriage is on the decline, so it would suggest heterosexual marriage in the UK is on decline but many counties, such as Russia, still have a high marriage rate, and same-sex marriage in the UK has increased, so it not a universal pattern.


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