Social Life (Unit 5)

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Unit V. Love. Marriage. Family in Britain.


1. Read and translate the text using a dictionary if necessary

Text I


There are many different views on family life. Some people could not do without the support and love of their families. Others say it is the source of most of our problems and anxieties. Whatever the truth is, the family is definitely a powerful symbol. Turn on the television or open a magazine and you will see advertisements featuring happy, balanced families. Politicians often try to win votes by standing for "family values": respect for parental authority, stability in marriage, chastity and care for the elderly.

Sociologists divide families into two general types: the nuclear family and the extended family, which may include three or more generations living together. In industrialized countries, and increasingly in the large cities of developing countries, the nuclear family is regarded as normal. Most people think of it as consisting of two parents and two children. In fact, the number of households containing a nuclear family is shrinking year by year.

There are people who say that the family unit in Britain is in crisis and that traditional family life is a thing of the past. This is of great concern to those who think a healthy society is dependent upon a stable family life. They see many indications that the family is in decline, in such things as the acceptance of sex before marriage, the increased number of one-parent families, the current high divorce rate and what they see as a lack of discipline within the family. Some politicians blame social problems, such as drug taking and juvenile crime, on a disintegrating family life. Concern that the family is in a state of crisis is not new in Britain. In the nineteenth century, many legislators and reformers were saying the same. It was also a concern between the two World Wars, and in the 1980s it became a continuous political issue.

There is no definition of a "normal" family. Broadly speaking, the family is a group of people related by blood or law, living together or associating with one another fop a common purpose. That purpose is usually to provide shelter arid food, and to bring up children. The nature of the family keeps changing: there are a number of types of family that exist in a society at any one time.


Vocabulary Practice


1. Match the following word combinations according to their meaning:

to assume power

to take upon oneself

to assume the role of a leader

to gain power

to assume a part

to put on a look

to assume a look

to pretend (to feign)

to assume responsibility

to take leadership


2. Translate the following sentences into Russian:

a) a man of good family, a man of no family, a family man, nuclear family, cat family, family of language, in a family way, in the family way, a family tree.

b) A much more common name is Jack. 2. The plot behind the house was common property. 3. Her brother is a common Worker. 4. In such matters you must use common sense 5 It's a mistake common to all students. 6. It's common knowledge that his work of art is very valuable. 7. There was hardly any hope of finding common ground with the opposition. 8. They have plenty in common.


3. Which is the odd word out?

a)  live, dwell, lodge, stay, stop, put up;

b)  begin, commence, start, finish, end, cease, go on, go out, continue;

c)  expect, wait, hope, believe, think, suppose.


4. Answer the following questions:

1. What are some of the views on family life? 2. What are the predictions of the end of the family system based upon in Great Britain and Russia? 3. What relations are customary between Russian young men and girls? 4. What are the basic characteristics of a family? 5. What are the definitions of a family? 6. What is your idea of an "ideal" family?


5. Make up sentences of your own with these words:

a) assume v 1. take over: assume responsibilities, power 2. suppose: We must assume him to be innocent. 3. pretend: assume ignorance, indifference, an air of concern, etc. assumption n supposition: on the assumption

b) care for n anxiety, concern: a mother's care for her children; take care of oneself/smb/smth = make sure that one/smb/smth is safe and well: My sister is taking care of the children while we are away. care v feel special interest in smb/smth: He cares much for her. not to care = be indifferent: don't care. careful adj cautious (ant careless, carefree)


Speech Exercises


1. Answer the questions:

a)  What are many different views on family life?

b)  How do sociologists divide families?

c)  In what country is the nuclear family regarded as normal?

d)  What is a great concern to those who think a family life is the basis of a healthy society?

e)  What are the family declining indicators?

f)   Do you agree that some politicians blame social problems on a disintegrating family life?

g)  Is there a definition of a “normal family”?

h)  Does the nature of the family keep changing?


2. Read and learn the dialogue by heart.

-- Are you married?

-- Yes, I am.

-- How long have you been married?

-- For two years.

-- When did you marry?

-- I married in 1999

-- Had you known each other long before you got married?

-- We had known each other for five years.


3. Comment on the following statements about marriage:

a)  Society would not exist without marriage.

b)  Marriage is necessary.

c)  Marriage is important for the children.

d)  Marriage keeps couples together.

e)  A marriage license is a worthless piece of paper.

f)   Marriage restricts freedom.

g)  A lot of married people get divorced.


4. What are the characteristics of a wife/husband and a mother-in-law preferably for you and your own family life?

a)   Wife or husband: tolerant, considerate, faithful, affectionate to husband/wife, affectionate to children, hard-working, tidy, home-loving, good-looking at home, rich, thrifty, well-educated

b)  Mother-in-law: willing to baby sit, attractive, generous, young (relatively), well dressed, rich, good at organizing home, has telephone, has many interests, does not interfere, has other married children, lives nearby

c)   Put the characteristics in order of priority.

d)  Expend them to describe the most perfect wife/husband and mother-in-law.


II. Family Problems

1. Read the following survey about a British family. In groups create a survey of the kind for an average Russian family.

Text II


The average British family lives in a semi-detached house with a garden in the south of England. They own their house, which is situated in the suburbs of a large town. The house has three bedrooms. On average they have two children and a pet. The family drives a two-year-old Ford.

He works in the office of an engineering company for 40 hours a week and earns £ 200 per week. He starts at 9.00 in the morning and finishes at 5.30 in the evening. He goes to work by car, which takes him 20 minutes. He doesn't particularly like his job, but there are chances of promotion.

She works in a service industry for three days a week and earns £ 95. She works locally and goes there by bus. She quite likes her job as it gets her out of the house, she meets people, and it is close to the children's school. The children go to a state school which is a few miles from home. A special bus comes to pick them up every day. They are at school from 9.00 to 3.30. The most popular evening entertainment is watching television or video, which the average person does for two and a half hours a day. After that, the next most popular activity is visiting friends, going to the cinema or a restaurant or going to the pub. The most popular hobby is gardening and the most popular sports are fishing, football and tennis.


2. Put questions to the text and retell the text, using questions as a plan.


3. Answer the following questions:

a)     What are the usual steps that precede marriage?

b)     Do you believe house chores should be distributed between you and your partner?

c)     Why do some men agree to help with the house-work at least in theory?

d)     Is it possible to let house-work wait until you want to do it?

e)     What would you take into consideration while distributing house chores in your family?

f)      What do you like to do about the house and what do you dislike?

g)     What would you do if your husband/wife comes home from work tired and irritated?

h)     If you feel ill-treated or hurt by your husband/wife do you think you should have the matter out at once or would you wait till you cool down?


4. Speak on the following topics:

a)     Husbands and wives who both work should share domestic chores.

b)     The problems of having a granny in the family.

c)     Courses on marriage and family matters in secondary school might be helpful in preserving the family.

d)     Home life feels the stress of social life.

e)     Divorce is morally wrong and marriage should be preserved at all costs.

f)      Marriages at later ages are more stable.

g)     Life begins at home.


5. Translate the text from English into Russian, using dictionaries if necessary.


Text III


Most young people eventually get married, buy or rent a house or flat of their own and start a family. However, a great many changes are taking place in this pattern of behaviour. As in many other Western European countries, more and more men and women are living together without being married. In the mid 1980s more than a quarter of new brides had lived with their husbands before marriage, compared with 8 per cent in 1970. People are also getting married later than they used to.

However marriage is still popular even among those whose first marriage has failed. In fact, in 36 per cent of all marriages one or both partners have already been married and divorced. Britain now has the highest divorce rate in Europe and about 10 per cent of children live with only one parent.

Another trend is towards smaller households. Very few children now grow up in large families and more and more adults are living alone (25 per cent in 1987). Many of the people who live alone are elderly; it is unusual to find three generations living in one house as they used to do in the past. It is quite common for close relatives to live in different parts of the country and. many people hardly ever meet their uncles, aunts and cousins. One reason for this is that British people move house every five years on average. They do this in order to change jobs or to buy a bigger or better house.


III. Love and Marriage in Britain

1. Read the text and try to retell it

Text I

Love and Marriage in Britain

Young people in Britain may have several girlfriends or boyfriends from their teens onwards. They go to the cinema, go dancing, play sports or eat out together and do not necessarily intend to get married. However, each year about 350,000 British couples become husband and wife. Marriage is legal from the age of sixteen but most people wait until their mid to late twenties. Of those who get married, about seventy per cent prefer a traditional church wedding to a registry office wedding. However, by the age of forty, one woman in twenty and one man in eleven will still be single.

One in four children are born outside of marriage but these are not all in single-parent families; sixty per cent of unmarried parents have stable relationships. Thirty-seven per cent of marriages end in divorce and cost the country more than £1.4 billion a year. Although over thirty per cent of women depend financially on their husbands, women ask for seventy per cent of all divorces. Three out often divorced women married as teenagers.

Marriage does seem to be more popular now than could be imagined thirty years ago. Is it since research has shown that married people generally live longer than the single?


2. A.    Ask and answer questions on the text.

B.        Speak about marriage in Britain.

C.        1. What do you think is the best age to get married? 2. Children should have married parents. Discuss.

D.        Did you use to fight with your brothers and sisters when you were young? How do you get on with them now?


Discuss which THREE of the following are the most harmful to children.

having a favourite child

wanting children to do well at school

wanting them to be attractive/or popular

not giving enough discipline

not spending enough time with them - being too protective


Now write three paragraphs giving your opinion. The phrases below may be useful.

I think/don't think having a favourite child is ...

I think it's quite natural for parents to ...

To give you an example, when I was a little child...




Text II

The Family

A "typical" British family used to consist of mother, father and two children, but in recent years there have been many changes in family life. Some of these have been caused by new laws and others are the result of changes in society. For example, since the law made it easier to get a divorce, the number of divorced has increased. In fact one marriage in every three now ends in divorce. This means that there are a lot of one-parent families. Society is now more tolerant than it used to be of unmarried people, unmarried couples and single parents.

Another change has been caused by the fact that people are living longer nowadays, and many old people live alone following the death of their partners. As a result of these changes in the pattern of people's lives, there are many households which consist of only one person or one adult and children.

You might think that marriage and the family are not so popular as they once were. However, the majority of divorced people marry again, and they sometimes take responsibility for a second family.

Members of a family—grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins—keep in touch, but they see less of each other than they used to. This is because people often move away from their home town to work, and so the family becomes scattered. Christmas is the traditional season for reunions. Although the family group is smaller nowadays than it used to be, relatives often travel many miles in order to spend the holiday together.

In general, each generation is keen to become independent of parents in establishing its own family unit, and this fact can lead to social as well as geographical differences within the larger family group.


1. Comment on the author’s view of a “typical” British family.


2. Compare and say what factors affect family relations in Russia.


1. Read and translate the text, using dictionaries if necessary.

Text III

Social Trends

When Adrian Hutton and Carla Leene get married they will move into a new house that they have bought. But what sort of life will they have? What can they expect in modern Britain? Every year the British government publishes statistics about social trends. Their findings show definite patterns in the British way of life. In most marriages there are some marked differences between husbands and wives. Working wives, for example, sleep (on average) one hour more a day than working husbands. Housewives, on the other hand, sleep only about three hours more every week than their working husbands. And what about housework? The government survey showed that only 1% of men do the household chores — like cleaning and ironing. But they do usually keep household accounts and it is always men who do repairs or improvements in the house. 30% of all marriages end in divorce. The government survey also looked at leisure activities. They found that the two most popular leisure activities in Britain are watching television (the average family spends 20 hours a week in front of the TV set) and going for walks. Swimming is an especially popular activity among British women.

Carla and Adrian's life, though, will probably be different from the average marriage. In the first place Carla has always kept her own accounts and Adrian has always done his own housework. Neither of them like watching television very much and they both like swimming.


A.       Ask and answer questions on the text.,

B.       Speak on social trends in the British way of life.


2. Make the following statements disjunctive questions:

a)      Married couples are happiest shortly after marriage.

b)      They have been engaged for a year.

c)      Things normally went according to plan for him.

d)      He had just about everything he wanted.

e)      She was reluctant to marry anyone outside her class.

f)       When he proposed to her, his proposal was accepted eagerly.

g)      Marriage is usually presided by dating.

h)      There can be no perfect marriage without security and understanding.

i)       She made up her mind to marry her beloved by all means.

j)       Marriage has always been a universal social expectation.


3. Ask your friend if he/she…

a)      is married

b)      is going to marry

c)      is in love

d)      has a family

e)      wants to remain single

f)       has a lot of relatives

g)      has never thought of the problem

h)      knows a happy married couple

i)       knows what romantic love is

j)       has never been in love with anyone


Text IV

Those lazy husbands

Men are lazy in the home, according to an official survey published today.

They have about six hours' a week more free time than wives, but play very little part in cooking, cleaning, washing, and ironing, according to the Social Trends Survey by the Central Statistical Office.

Nearly three quarters of married women claimed to do all or most of the housework, and among married men the proportion who admitted that their wives did all or most of the housework was only slightly lower.

The survey showed that washing and ironing was the least popular task among men, with only one per cent performing this duty, compared with 89 per cent of women, and 10 per cent sharing equally.

Only 5 per cent of men prepare the evening meal, 3 per cent carry out household cleaning duties, 5 per cent household shopping, and 17 per cent wash the evening dishes.

But when household gadgets break down, repairs are carried out by 82 per cent of husbands.

The survey says that, despite our economic problems, the majority of Britons are substantially better off than a decade ago. We're healthier, too - eating healthier foods and smoking less.

The average Briton, not surprisingly, is more widely travelled than a decade ago. More people are going abroad for holidays, with Spain the favourite destination.

So here is the way the statisticians see us...


Splitting up - the painful facts

There were 162,000 divorces in Britain in 1983, and about a fifth of those involved at least one partner who had been divorced before.

But splitting up is more common among the lower income groups. The survey shows that the rate of divorces per thousand husbands in unskilled manual jobs was more than four times that for professional husbands.

Nearly two-fifths of all currently divorced women aged 18 to 49 were receiving maintenance from their former husbands for their children or themselves.

Marriages in the UK - a total of 387.000 - were three per cent down on the previous year. Just over a third of these were remarriages for one or both partners.



Most people considered that the gap between high wage earners and those on small incomes was too large.

Predictably, people with high incomes were less likely to agree, but even among those with an annual income of at least £15,000, more than half thought the gap was too wide. The majority also disagreed that the rich in this country are over-taxed.

Questioned on Government spending, the three most favoured candidates for extra cash were health, education, and help for industry. The least favoured were overseas aid, public transport, roads, police, and prisons.



The number of smokers dropped by around 12 per cent compared with 1972, with more men than women kicking the habit. But drug abuse rocketed. Registered male addicts under 20 doubled between 1982 and 1983.

* There were 56 million people living in the UK in 1983 - only half a million more than in 1971. But the number of people aged 65 or over had gone up by more than two million since 1961, and represented more than 15 per cent of the population, compared with less than 5 per cent at the turn of the century.


1. Complete the following sentences, using information from the article above.

Women do more work in the house than men do.

a. Women __________ free time __________ men.

b. Men __________ housework.

c. __________ do any washing or ironing.

d. Only one man in twenty __________.

e. __________ wash the dishes in the evening.

f. __________ repairs in the household __________ by men.

g. Britons __________ more money __________ ten years ago.

h. Britons __________ cigarettes, and are eating __________.

i.  Spain __________ place to go on holiday.

j. There were __________ as many divorces among __________ as among professional classes.

k. Fewer than two in five divorced women __________.

l. __________ marriages in 1983 __________ 1982.


2. Ask and answer questions on the text.


3. Speak on the Social Trends Survey by the Central Statistical Office.


4. Do you agree with these statements?

a)      Father should feed children and change their nappies.

b)      Men should do more work about the house.

c)      Mothers with young children should not work.


5. What are the results of the Social Trend Survey in Russia?

a)      Have you get any information on this problem?

b)      Tell your friends what you’ve read or heard about it.

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