Geographies of family formations: spatial differences and gender cultures in Britain
Duncan, Simon and Smith, D.P. (2002) Geographies of family formations: spatial differences and gender cultures in Britain Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 27 (4). pp. 471-493. ISSN 1475-5661
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The significance of national differences in family formations has been addressed through the social policy debate over women's position in different welfare state regimes. However, the nature and effects of sub–national family geographies remains under–researched. In this paper we use census mapping to describe regional and local differences in partnering and parenting within Britain. We develop an index of the 'Motherhood Employment Effect' to indicate different geographical levels of adherence to the 'traditional' male breadwinner/female homemaker family, and use a 'Family Conventionality' index to describe geographical differences in the social evaluation of marriage. The geography of family formations thus described does not follow the better known 'north–south' or 'urban–rural' geographies of economic performance and prosperity. We use the example of Lancashire and Yorkshire to explore further the socio–economic associations of this family geography, employing additional indicators of 'household conventionality' and 'family restructuring'. Finally, we speculate as to how this relatively unfamiliar family geography may be related to the existence of regional gender cultures, and briefly outline some implications for social policy.
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