The People of Ship Street

The People of Ship Street

The People of Ship Street

The People of Ship Street

Excerpt

THE writer on family structure is at once caught up in the problem of whether enumeration can ever bear much relation to reality. The census deals with households, not families, and frequently this has coloured sociological thinking, and in practice social planning, so that in England when we talk of family structure what we usually mean is household structure. Because of this the family has come to mean mother, father, plus own children, which appears to be the usual content of a middle-class household. In this latter case it is almost as if the convention of the small house or bungalow has started to alter some of the functional relationships within the family to suit the building.

It is not very easy to give figures showing the heads of each of the households as where there are a large number of people in the house it is difficult to decide whom to choose. One criterion might be who has the rent book. However, in some cases this can be a very old woman to whom the house 'belongs'. The following figures are based on an attempt to focus on the most responsible people in the household.

In 43 cases husband and wife are jointly the responsible householders, in 10 cases this position is held by a widow and in 4 cases by a widower. In 1 case a divorced woman is the householder. In 3 cases the man 'has taken a walk' leaving his wife in sole charge.

It is relevant here to define the term 'household'. We have taken it to mean a group of people living and eating together and sharing the money earned by one or more of them. In Ship Street these people are always relatives. This definition if rigidly used could blur the true picture of this type of family . . .

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