Organizational diversity is a type of family diversity focusing on the structural differences between families. This includes the conjugal role of family members and the way family members are organized within the family structure.

Different family types

The "conventional" nuclear family

The nuclear family, according to functionalist definition, contains a married heterosexual couple with dependant children. This is the basis on which organizational diversity is compared to.

♂Father ------ ♀Mother

♂♂♀♀ Children

Extended family

A family type which "attaches" relatives to the nuclear family; this includes grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. An extended family can often form overlapping nuclear families.

♂Grandfather ------ ♀Grandmother

♂Uncle ♂Father ------ ♀Mother ♀Aunt

♂♂♀♀ Children ♂♂♀♀ Cousins

Gay/Lesbian family

A family type featuring a couple of the same sex.

♂♂ OR ♀♀ (♂/♀ Surrogate father/mother)

(♂♂♀♀ Children)

Reconstituted family

A family type where at least one of the couples have been divorced before; this family type most commonly features step-fathers and step-mothers.

♂Father ----------------------♀Stepmother

♂♂♀♀ Children

Single parent family

A family type featuring a single parent with dependant children; these families most commonly result out of divorce and the death of a spouse. In the case of divorce, usually the dependant children goes to the mother.


♂♂♀♀ Children

Empty nest family

A family with a couple and independant children; the couple and their children live separately.

♀Mother ------ ♂Father


A family type that contains one person living by themselves.

♂Forever alone


Two unmarried individuals living together; may or may not include children.

♀Female ---(not married)--- ♂Male

(♂♂♀♀ Children)

DINKI family (Dual Income No Kids)

A family type which features a couple both taking paid work outside home, without children.

♀Mother ------ ♂Father

Beanpole family

A family type featuring multiple generations but few people in each generation, making the structure of the family "thin"; this type of family was popularized due to reduced birth rates in different countries.

♂Grandfather ------ ♀Grandmother

♀Mother ------ ♂Father

♀ Child

The "4-2-1" family in China is an example of this, featuring only one child born with each couple.

Reasons for family diversity

Sociologists have identified various reasons for the increase in family diversity:

Secularization (the loss of religion): The decreasing tendency of believing in a religion has lead to a reduced amount of social stigma attached to "unconventional" family types (such as the gay/lesbian family) and divorce, increasing single parent families. (Statistics: in 2010 60% of British citizens identified themselves as religious according to the ONS; this number declined to 30% in 2015 according to The Guardian.)

Increasing social and economic independence: A general trend in the increasing education levels of individuals, especially amongst females, has led to a general decline in marriage and childbirth in favour of the pursuit of careers, increasing the amount of single households and DINKI families. (Statistics: in the start of the 20th century an average of 3 children were born in each family; this figure had dropped to 1.6 in the 21st century.)

Related sociologists

Hughes (2009): average age of first marriage for women was 23 in 1977 and increased to 29 in 2007. In many industrial societies there is an aging population, affecting marriage statistics.

Oswald (2002): increased female financial career and personal independence makes them less likely to enter relationships that restricts their ability to work and develop a career.

Hughes and Church: 10% of families with dependent children were never married mothers in 2011, compared to only 1% in 1971.

Beck (1992): people in postmodern societies increasingly assess likely risks and consequences of their actions-avoidance of risk by not marrying.

Smart and Stevens (2000): Cohabitation represents a trial marriage with less risk.

Rapoport and Rapoport (1969): Women in dual-career families are increasingly unwilling to have children, prioritizing their careers. They also think that parenthoold would disrupt their lives.

Tiffen and Gittins (2004): women less likely to accept personal and social identities built around home and motherhood.

Graham: There is less need for children as a protection against old age and illness.

Chester: There's a shift from traditional nuclear family to neo-conventional families/dual-earner families, but family diversity and its impact on society has been exaggerated.

Giddens: family diversity is the results of people having more choice and freedom in the postmodern society, especially since women now have greater opportunities in education as well as workplace.

Past paper questions

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.