Chambers (2012) addresses how parenting has changed from the late twentieth century to the present. One main change in parenting practices is of Gay and Lesbian men and women, who in the 1960’s in America were threatened with the removal of their custody of their children. Chambers (2012) also describes how lesbian and gay couples were once assumed to abuse and pass on their sexuality to their children. However, as a result of the passing of recent laws, specifically the Same Sex Couples Act (2013), LGBT families have challenged conventional parenting practices. Also, as a result of these laws there is less stigma attached to the idea of homosexual couples raising children.
When Chambers (2012) examines childhood, she explores it through a class lens. (Ball et al’s. 1996 cited in Chambers, 2012) research shows that the process and features of childrearing amongst working class and middle class parents differs. Annette Lareau (2002) describes that middle class parents are likely to involve their children in activities that are seen by parents to transmit life skills to their children. Also, many middle class children often partake in extracurricular activities including sport and dance, starting from under five years old. On the other hand, Lareau (2002) describes that working class parents emphasise the achievement of ‘natural growth’. This refers to parents not placing much emphasis on the importance of enrichment activities, but alternatively argue that if they are capably caring for their children, their natural abilities will develop in time. This chapter in the book is important as it shows how social class differences can influence family life.
There are many strengths of A Sociology of Family Life Chambers (2012). The main strength of the text is that it is a a very contemporary that explores a wide range of topics associated with family life. In addition to this Chambers (2012) shows how the family has changed as we have entered postmodernity, most importantly the increase of family diversity and changing demographics. Similarly, Chambers (2012) uses concepts from other sociologists to support her ideas on gay and lesbian individuals in reference to family life; in particular in same-sex relationships and parenting styles. This is important because it shows how social policy, specifically The Same Sex Couples Act (2013) has influenced family diversity.
Another strength of Chambers (2002) work is that it includes a variety of sociological perspectives including functionalism, feminism, postmodernism and marxism, which are useful when examining family diversity as a whole. This is because all of the arguments combined allows us to compare and contrast sociological ideas to form a coherent knowledge of family life. Similarly, Chambers (2002) uses secondary sources to support her own ideas. This is significant because it allows the comparison of many different studies conducted at different times and locations. As a result of this, Chambers (2002) is able to draw conclusions from a variety of sociological findings.
Within the book, Chambers (2002) is quite objective which means she barely ever offers opinion on the topics spoken about. She predominantly uses statistics and quotes from other sociological writers to draw conclusions rather than her own ideas. In her writing, she offers a balanced argument which means that the text is not bias. Because Chambers (2002) arguments are supported by evidence, we are able to deem her book credible.
Despite the Chambers (2012) work offering us a detailed insight into the family, her work does show limitations. One of these is that other authors offer more detailed accounts of specific topics mentioned in A Sociology of Family Life. Childhood Wyness (2015) offers a more in depth exploration of childhood as oppose to Chambers (2012) who only uses less than 20 pages in her book to discuss the topic. When both texts are read together, they accompany each other very well, with Chambers (2012) giving us a general overview of childhood and Wyness (2015) exploring themes in detail such as globalisation. For example, Wyness (2015) proposes arguments about globalisation and the implications it has had on children in China. As a result of high migration rates in China, migrant children have limited access to facilities available to other residents, these include schooling, healthcare and welfare support. Wyness’ (2015) work is similar to Chambers (2012) as they both use pre-existing research to support their arguments and both are objective when exploring aspects of childhood. Wyness’ Childhood (2015) also provides us with research conducted in other countries as oppose to the usual United Kingdom and America. However, when examining the two books, they both do provide readers with contemporary topics including globalisation and family diversity, which are seen as very important when exploring the family in postmodern society.
Overall, A Sociology of Family Life (Chambers, 2012) provides us with a variety of aspects associated with family life, including her own research findings and those of other writers. Specifically mentioned in this review, an insight into the aspects of family life and how the family has changed over time is explored. Furthermore, the book offers us vision into how family diversity has challenged traditional stereotypes of the family, most importantly, the conventional nuclear family. In addition, Chambers (2012) writing on social class influences on childhood gave us insight to how class differences and their impact affect children at such early ages. Living in an ever-changing, postmodern society it is difficult to predict the future for the family, especially with new social policy being implemented constantly and changing attitudes of society.