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Assess the view that the Nuclear Family is no longer the norm'' - Functionalism vs. Post Modernism

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Rosalind Cresswell ' Assess the view that the Nuclear Family is no longer the norm'' - Functionalism vs. Post Modernism The Nuclear family is seen as the traditional family and it is made up of a husband, a wife and one or more children, which can be either biological or adopted. In the family the husband is usually the breadwinner and is instrumental towards the children, where as the wife should be responsible for the housework and plays an expressive role towards the children. This is known as a 'cereal packet' family. Murdock a functionalist sociologist (1949) argued that nuclear family is a 'universal social grouping', which can be found in all societies, however according to postmodernists nuclear families are not necessarily the most effective family. One reason that the nuclear family isn't necessarily considered the norm anymore would be an increase in same-sex couples because it has become more socially acceptable as homosexuality was legalised in the UK in 1967. This has meant that there are more same sex couples and they now have the chance to adopt. ...read more.


Charles Murray (1984) sees the growth in lone parent families as result from an over generous welfare state providing benefits for unmarried mothers and their children, he also argues that this had created 'perverse incentive' and that it rewards irresponsible behaviour. On the other hand critics of Functionalism and the New Right argue that welfare benefits are far from generous and lone parent families are more likely to be in poverty and so typically would not chose this life style. The reconstituted family or stepfamily is made up of divorced or widowed people who have remarried, and their children from previous marriage. The rise in divorce has meant that this type of family has increased. Divorce has become more acceptable because there were changes in the law, a decline in stigma and people now have higher expectations of marriage. Postmodernists see a high divorce rate as giving individuals the freedom to choose to end a relationship when it no longer meets their needs. Divorce used to be frowned upon and not accepted in society; people who did it were seen as weak. ...read more.


However a study of Pakistani families in Essex showed that they are most likely to live in traditional Nuclear Families, however they also live in extended families. Extended families are where one or more Grandparent lives with the family so there are three or more generations living under one roof. Post Modernism states it is no longer expected for people to be married with children in a typical Nuclear Family. Men no longer have a clear cut position as women are working and getting money in, which results in men helping round the house more. This has led to men redefining both their family commitments and their sexuality, instead of the warm bath theory being practised it is much more common for both sexes to share the responsibilities. In contrast to this functionalism states that although there have been some minor changes to society the basic features of family life have remained largely unchanged for the majority of the population since the 1950's. In conclusion, there is no doubt that the Nuclear Family is very common however the increasing number of other family types point towards a slow but steady change away from the nuclear ideal. ...read more.

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