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Section A

Answer question 1.

1 Sociologists accept the idea that age and the process of growing older are linked to both biological and social processes. The number of people aged 65 and over has risen rapidly in modern industrial societies and this trend is expected to continue. In many countries, there are now more older people than children in the population. These changes leading to an ageing population will have significant implications both for family life and society. As this happens our understanding of what it means to belong to particular age groups and family relationships will change.

In order to understand the process of growing older, it is necessary to study the social context in which it occurs. From this perspective age can be seen as a social construction.

(a) What is meant by the term social construction? [2]

1 A partial definition such as a role/concept/social identity learnt in a particular society.

2 An accurate definition such as behaviour that is culturally rather than naturally produced.

An example on its own will not be credited. If an example is used to support a definition, thereby demonstrating understanding of the term, this can be credited.

(b) Describe two problems for society of an ageing population. [4]

Allow points that make reference to either the family, wider society or the individual.

Points that can be included

• Pensioner poverty

• Growth of isolated one person households

• Increased dependency ratio

• Policy implications for care/pensions

• Demands for health/social care/welfare

• Decreased number of young people to support the elderly or the economy/decline of fertility

• Not enough people to look after the elderly (this needs to be different from support)

• Ageism/discrimination

• Breaking down of society

Any other accurately identified problem

Two marks are available for each problem.

Development can be either by description of the problem or an explanation of its consequence for society.

One mark for the problem plus one mark for development.

(c) Explain why the status of older people may vary between societies. [8]

L 1 0–4 Answers at this level are likely to describe how status varies and show only limited appreciation of the issues raised in the question.

Lower in the level a simple answer which states one or two aspects of being elderly in one society or compares one aspect (such as levels of wealth or gender) between societies may be worth 1 or 2 marks.

Higher in the level, an answer might advance a few limited observations describing the status of the elderly in two societies (places) and may be worth 3 or 4 marks. There is likely to be little depth in the points offered and the answer will rely on description rather than explanation but an answer with some reference to the work of Parsons might reach the top of the band.

If a link is made to any relevant research or methods but without it being explicit candidates might reach the top of the band.

L 2 5–8 Answers at this level show some sociological knowledge and understanding of the question.

In this level there is likely to be some accurate reference to either theory, studies, the use of concepts or contemporary examples the issue of varies will be directly addressed.

Lower in the level, this may be by simplistic description of why the status of the elderly in two societies may vary, these may be specifically named (most likely modern industrial society/traditional society but it may be by naming societies) comparing the status of the elderly and how this may influence their life chances: such answers could receive a mark of 5–6.

Higher in the level, a more detailed account of why the status of the elderly may vary. One way in which this could be addressed is by an outline how subculture/gender/class within a society can also influence consequences as well as between cultures and such answers may gain 7 or 8 marks. Use can be made of the work of Vincent. Place at the top of the level according to depth and/or range of examples explained and supported by reference to theory or empirical data.

N.B. This question asks candidates to ‘explain’ therefore there is no requirement for assessment.

A good list of underdeveloped points may gain up to six marks. To go higher, there needs to be some development of three or more points OR detailed development of two or more points

(d) Assess the extent to which age is the most significant social division within the family. [11]

L 1 0–4 Answers at this level are likely to show only limited appreciation of the issues raised in the question or may focus on the family.

Lower in the level, a simple answer may identify a few basic features such as a few general points about what different individuals do in families may gain 1 or 2 marks; these answers may describe different types of families or roles within them rather than different generations. Others may just describe childhood, the stages that children pass through or rites of passage.

Higher in the band general comparisons between the old and the young may be awarded a mark of 3 or 4. Other top of the band answers may compare different roles or responsibilities of different individuals or state that another factor, such as class or gender, is more important or make reference to power or strength with little reference to the question. Place here answers which outline the changing roles between different generations within the family.

Answers which offer weak possibly non-sociological points, even if on both sides, should be placed here. Use of sociological references in this level may be misplaced or inaccurate.

L 2 5–8 Answers at this level show some sociological knowledge and understanding of the question.

Lower in the level, a simplistic description of another significant factor (most probably gender as well as age) could gain up to 5 or 6 marks. Such answers could be supported by reference to the power or status of different groups within the family. Other answers at this level may support the view that age is the most significant division.

Higher in the level, a more detailed account of how age may or may not be the decisive factor as compared to another factor such as gender. Such answer should be supported sociologically by reference to writers such as Bernard and the position of women in marriages in all societies Place at the top of the level according to depth and/or range of examples explained and supported by reference to theory, empirical data or concepts.

Answers in this level should address both sides of the debate but a one-sided answer that is done very well, could also gain up to 8 marks.

L 3 9–11 Answers at this level must achieve three things:–

First, there will be good sociological knowledge and understanding.

Second, the material used will be interpreted accurately and applied effectively to answering the question showing an assessment of the significance, or not, of age as a social division within the family.

Third, there must also be some evidence of assessment.

Answers at this level will demonstrate good sociological knowledge and understanding applied to the question. There will also be an assessment of the significance, or not, of age as a social division within the family.

Lower in the level (9 – 10 marks), the assessment may be based on a simple juxtaposition of the of the way in which one factor, such as the economic position of the individual, may be the most significant influence and that can be related to both age and another factor such as gender. Answers may be confined to just one or two evaluative points.

At the top of the level (11 marks) the notion of ‘most significant’ will be evaluated explicitly and in reasonable depth. Family division/stratification should be directly addressed, probably through a discussion of the cumulative effects of age and gender or by ethnic comparisons. Some answers may note that family division/stratification is not necessarily the same for all.

Key concepts such as ageism, patriarchy, culture, disengagement, third age, fourth age can be used with credit.


Section B

Answer either question 2 or question 3.

2 Explain and assess the view that in modern industrial societies the nuclear family continues to be the dominant family type. [25]

L 1 0–6 Answers at this level are likely to be assertive and focus on a few common sense observations about activities related to families which may be described as remaining important, or not, and are unlikely to contain accurate sociological support or reference to the question.

Lower in the level, answers may be confined to one or two simple points based on assertion/common sense understanding. For example, one or two points describing different families may gain up to 3 marks.

Higher in the level, there may be a wider range of simple points based on assertion/common sense understanding. Answers describing one or two functions or naming families perhaps with reference to Murdock or Parsons may gain up to 6 marks.

L 2 7–12 Answers at this level will show some sociological knowledge and understanding of the question and there will be some attempt to directly answer the question as set and answers will relate to modern industrial societies. At this level answers are likely to be one sided but answers with limited use of sociological theories, studies or concepts are likely to be here even if reference to a debate is included. Unsupported lists of diversity are likely to be placed here.

Lower in the level (7–9 marks), the answer may be confined to a narrow range of points, lacking detail and possibly with some inaccuracies. For example, an outline of the stage three family as an example of the dominance of the nuclear family type with no development, may gain up to 9 marks. In this part of the level candidates may be inaccurate about which families can be described as nuclear or answers may describe the emergence of ‘new’ or different family forms or make some reference to statistics about households

Higher in the level (10–12 marks), answers may either cover a narrow range of points in reasonable detail or cover a wider range of points in limited detail. Answers may outline new/emerging forms of families. In this level answers that focus on functions have to explain that the nuclear family is dominant as only it can perform the functions effectively.

Points candidates might cover include discussion of the different family structures to be found, the work of Young and Willmott, Chester, the Rapoports (five types of diversity) , family fragmentation. Allan and Crow and cultural as well as examples of differing family structures in different societies.

L 3 13–18 Answers at this level will show good sociological knowledge and understanding. The material used will be interpreted and applied well to answering the question. There is no requirement for assessment at this level although it may be present. Answers should include some accurate use of sociological theory, studies or concepts.

Lower in the level (13–15 marks), answers may use a range of knowledge, there will be use of concepts or theory but the points covered may lack development or specific focus on the question.

Higher in the level (16–18 marks), answers will use a wider range of knowledge, supported by the use of concepts or theory, where relevant, and include some welldeveloped points. At the top of the level answers should include more detail in range or depth of sociological theory, studies and concepts.

L 4 19–25 Answers at this level must achieve three things:–

First, there will be good sociological knowledge and understanding.

Second, the material used will be interpreted accurately and applied effectively to answering the question.

Third, there must also be some evidence of assessment.

Answers in this level may provide a solid account of the ways in which the nuclear family can be seen as dominant, perhaps by life course analysis as well as the ways in which other family structures can be seen as having increasing importance. There could also be a sustained and well informed assessment of the work of Parsons and Murdock through the use of post-modernist theory such as the work of Morgan and Stacey and family practices.

Lower in the level (19–21 marks), the assessment may be largely delivered through juxtaposition of contrasting arguments and theories. Alternatively, the assessment may be limited to just one or two evaluative points that are explicitly stated.

Higher in the level (22–25 marks), there will be sustained assessment and the points offered will be explicit and well-directed towards the question. There likely to be a well formulated conclusion.

3 Explain and assess the view that in modern industrial societies the family no longer serves the needs of the economy. [25]

L 1 0–6 Answers at this level are likely to be assertive and focus on a few common sense observations about the economic activities of families which may be stated as either continuing to be linked to the economy or not with little or no sociological support or reference to the question.

Lower in the level, answers may be confined to one or two simple points based on assertion/common sense understanding. For example, one or two simple points stating the way the family provide for its members/provides workers for society may gain up to 3 marks.

Higher in the level, there may be a wider range of simple points based on assertion/common sense understanding. For example, an answer outlining the functions of the family/stating that the family supports its members/describing how jobs individuals do keep the economy going may gain up to 6 marks.

L 2 7–12 Answers at this level will show some sociological knowledge and understanding of the question.

Lower in the level (7–9 marks), the answer may be confined to a narrow range of points, lacking detail and possible with some inaccuracies. For example, an outline of Marxist theory relating to how the family provides labour power or the theory of fit with no development, may gain up to 9 marks.

Higher in the level (10–12 marks), answers may either cover a narrow range of points in reasonable detail or cover a wider range of points in limited detail. Points candidates might cover include discussion of the functions of the family specifically the economic function and it’s possibly changing nature from production to consumption or how the functions serve members rather than society. Comparison of functionalist views of such as Fletcher to Marxist views such as Zaretsky and different theoretical explanations for the need for reproduction.

L 3 13–18 Answers at this level will show good sociological knowledge and understanding. The material used will be interpreted and applied well to answering the question.

There is no requirement for assessment at this level although it may be present. Answers should include some accurate use of sociological theory, studies or concepts.

Lower in the level (13–15 marks), answers may use a range of knowledge, there will be use of concepts or theory but and the points covered may lack development or specific focus on the question.

Higher in the level (16–18 marks), answers will use a wider range of knowledge, supported by the use of concepts or theory, where relevant, and include some welldeveloped points. At the top of the level answers should include more detail in range or depth of sociological theory, studies and concepts.

L 4 19–25 Answers at this level must achieve three things:–

First, there will be good sociological knowledge and understanding.

Second, the material used will be interpreted accurately and applied effectively to answering the question.

Third, there must also be some evidence of assessment.

Answers in this level may provide a solid account of how the family fulfils economic functions as well as other functions of the family. Some answers may argue from the New Right perspective that the economy through welfare supports some families through benefits rather than families supporting the state.

There could also be a sustained and well informed assessment of the unpaid work of women in the home that has no economic reward as outlined by such thinkers as Delphy and Leonard.

Lower in the level (19–21 marks), the assessment may be largely delivered through juxtaposition of contrasting arguments and theories. Alternatively, the assessment may be limited to just one or two evaluative points that are explicitly stated.

Higher in the level (22–25 marks), there will be sustained assessment and the points offered will be explicit and well-directed towards the question. There likely to be a well formulated conclusion.

Useful information (Hints)

Question 1(a)

Question 1(b)

Question 1(c)

Question 1(d)

Question 2

Question 3

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