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The Ideal Family: A Study of the Views of Young Adults

Jenny Bunce

In 1975 and again in 1977, Anne Bray and Bruce McMillan carried out a family survey as a class exercise in Stage I Education at Otago University. Students were asked to provide descriptive data about their family of origin and to say a little about their 'ideal family'. The data from this exercise were used to look at some traditional issues. For example, at University we often find more students are the first born in the family than you would expect by chance. But the data on ideal families also raised some rather different and very interesting issues. In 1978 when I became involved we modified the questionnaire again and since then various versions of it have been completed by various groups of Stage I Education students each year. We now have the data from over 1500 students, but it is very messy. Over the years, not only have questions been altered and original data destroyed, but the subject group has also changed with changes in the papers available in Stage I in 1979, and also with changes in what particular students (e.g., Physical Education students) are required to take. And yet, in spite of these very uncontrolled factors, the responses obtained over the years have been remarkably consistent from year to year.

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