Changes In The American Family Structure From The Industrial Revolution To The Modern Era

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Family is one number of a basic social institution that has been subjected to scientific study and has been affected by changes in government and technology. Furthermore, the relationships between family structures were by no means exempt from the spirit of the reform that permeated the progressive era. Many of these threads had roots in earlier decades, particularly with the women’s movement immediately after the civil war. The Family Structure in the Industrial Revolution and modern era has changed dramatically throughout history.

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First, the reasons for getting married have drastically changed from the 1800s to today. To begin, during the Industrial Revolution people got married for a necessity and did not focus on romance. Dr. John R. Gills, a Professor of History and a consultant of Zachary Chastains book, From the Parlor to the Altar, explains that in the 1800s marriage was not always about love or even about one person finding happiness with another. The Marriage and Family Experience explains, marriage took place for a number of reasons: money, economic increase, or political reasons. Marriage itself was a business. The wealthy married one another to continue staying wealthy, and the poor married one another to survive. Religion was a huge factor on determining whom a person could marry, what their wedding would be like, and how their marriage would operate. Going hand-in-hand with religion was ethnicity. The American population tended to marry to a person of their own cultural group. When a woman got married she could not own property, a women’s wealth was automatically passed to her husband. Subsequently, after the Industrial Revolution into today’s society, marriage became about love and not a necessity. The Marriage and Family Experience explains, a couples intimacy is a big factor in a healthy marriage. Where being in love and being happy with one another is the main reason for marrying. Today married couples focus on being happy and in love with each other, to show affection, and to have a strong companionship together. These qualities make a modern day marriage work. Religion and culture is not a huge factor on who people marry today; in modern era it doesn’t matter how much money another person has as long as you love them. The concept of marriage has changed throughout history. From marrying for a necessity, where religion and ethnicity was a huge factor of who you were going to marry, to now marrying to be happy and in love.

Second, getting a divorce in the industrial revolution has increasingly changed to modern day. To begin, before the Industrial Revolution getting a divorce was very rare. Daily life Through History explains, divorce was rare in the eighteenth century colonial times, divorce required action by a state legislature, a difficult process. Only extreme situations like adultery warranted divorce. Spartacus Educational explains, women saw divorce as at least an option. Married to George Norton, Caroline Norton, an English social reformer and author active in the early and mid-nineteenth century later recalled: “we were discussing some opinion Mr. Norton had expressed; I said, that I thought I had never heard so silly or ridiculous a conclusion. This remark was punished by a sudden and violent kick; the blow reached my side; the remark caused great pain for several days, and being afraid to remain with him, I sat up the whole night in another apartment. ‘ Women in this time had no rights if they wanted to get out of their marriage it was very difficult to support their case, and to prove they could support themselves since their husbands practically owned them. In Caroline’s case George never let the divorce happen, having been beaten and abused, until he died in 1877, Caroline age 69, married Stirling Maxwell and unfortunately Caroline died three months later. However, as the divorce rates where low in the 1800s they gradually got higher due to the women’s rights movement and today the divorce rate is higher than ever. American Psychological Association explains, about 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States end in divorce. One of the most significant events of the 20th century was changing roles and the improvement status of women in public and private life, which led to the no fault divorce. No fault divorce refers to a type of divorce in which the spouse can file for divorce and does not have to prove any fault on the part of the other spouse, that change brought a rise in divorce. If a person is not in love, then why stay married, women today now have their own rights, they can support themselves, and hold their own wealth and property. People have higher expectations. As the reasons for getting a divorce has broadened for reasons like: infidelity, money problems, addictions, boredom, violence, emotional needs not being met, etc. Hence, women in the 1800s were not so lucky; today women have the rights to file for a divorce.

Third, family size has dramatically changed from the Industrial Revolution to today. Furthermore, during the time before the industrial revolution family size was normally large. Psychology Today justifies, families of the premodern period reared to having larger numbers of children, but on the other hand, household size was not very large because childbearing extended over a long period of time. Family and Daily Life clarifies, children in the 1800’s were seen as economic assets, rural families had large numbers of children. Children where a valuable source of labor, many rural people also married at an earlier age; therefore, they had more time to produce children, having seven children was normal. Girls helped their mother’s with: housework, watched younger siblings, helped their mothers in baking and doing laundry. Boys often went to work in mines at a young age. Children were expected to learn certain tasks at a young age. In addition, before the Industrial Revolution family size was normally large, but as the years went by family size has gradually got smaller. Family and Daily Life justifies, more birth control options meant women could better control the size of their families, and explore other goals for their lives. In 1970 the birth rate for a child was 2. 39 per female, within two years it had fallen to 1. 98, placing the United States below the 2. 1 rate that is required for zero population growth. Family and Daily Life puts into words, the more education a mother was, the fewer children she will likely have. The women’s moment changed the view of family size. Mothers were constantly worried about their children, but as women gained their own rights, got better education, and started focusing on themselves, the fewer children they would have. As having children back in the 1800’s, while relationship of children in the 1800’s was based on obedience, helping the family with finances, it increasingly became based on affection, and to cherish their children rather than be commanded. To conclude, family today is much smaller than family size in the 1800’s.

Fourth, roles of family members has almost switched from Industrial Revolution to modern day roles. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, husbands were the money makers of the household, and women would typically stay at home. As husbands went to work, wives stayed at home, wives had a difficult task. Women simultaneously maintained the home, raised children, and earned money to contribute to the family income. Women working outside the home implied that the male head of the family was failing in efforts to support his family. Women in the 1800’s once married really had no rights. Whatever the wife earned, her earnings went to her husband. The husband could do whatever he wanted with their income, the wife could not prevent the husband from spending the household funds on drinking or other idle activities. Gradually, the role of husband and wife began to change throughout the years, as women could now work and support themselves. The women’s moment of the 19th century and early 20th century has a great impact with the extension of the franchise to women. Women could now work outside of their homes and work in the work force, and husbands started contributing more to their family and kids. Therefore, before the Industrial Revolution the wives stayed home and husbands went to work, today women also go out and work.

Last, the romance of the time era from Industrial Revolution does not have a lot of comparison to what romance is like now. To begin, in the 1800’s romance was nonexistent. Daily Life in America explains, “dating did not exist in the 1800’s”. There was nothing like popcorn and a movie, no parking the car at an overlook, no restaurant dinners, but another concept called courtship did exist. Courtship can be defined as an act to prepare for a marriage proposal. Courtship only involves one individual, and the objective is always most definitely to marry. Courtship usually occurred inside the house. As generations past the concept of romance and dating began to change, going outside of the house and going on dates came into the picture. Psychology Today’s explains, “it wasn’t until the 19th century that a relationship had anything to do with love. As a “date” in the 1800’s consisted of the man going over the the lady’s house, a “date” now is maybe dinner and a movie. As technology arose, online dating had a tremendous impact. In the 1990’s internet dating surfaced, to be matched with their “ideal” partner. 22% of twenty-five to thirty-four year olds use an online dating website or app. A quarter of online daters find a spouse or a long-term relationship. To conclude, dating in the time of the industrial revolution was limited and target to one person, the concept was to marry that person, where nowadays you date to find your soulmate with dating possibly one or more people to achieve that.

To conclude, with the changes throughout history: family structure in the Industrial Revolution to modern era has changed dramatically. The meaning of marriage throughout history has changed from marrying to have a partner, to now marring to be in love. Divorce in the industrial revolution went from only being able to get a divorce under adultery to passing a no fault law. Family size in the industrial revolution was exceedingly bigger than what it is now today. Roles of men and women back in the industrial revolution were very prominent to men being the workers, where today the roles of men and women are almost uniform. Romance in the industrial revolution did not exist; where today romance is about finding your one true love, and going on dates. Due to the changes in government and technology, the meaning of family structure had changed throughout history.

10 December 2020

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