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Examine the View that the Family is a Universal Institution

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Examine the View that the Family is a Universal Institution Many sociologists regard the family as the foundation of society. It forms the basic unit of social organisation and it hard to imagine how society could function without the family. The family is considered a good thing for individuals and society. There are many variations of the family, yet in general the most common type is the nuclear family. This consists of two adults of different genders with two dependant children. George Murdock took a sample of 250 societies and concluded that in some form the family existed in every society. Therefore the family is a universal institution; as there is a type of family in every society worldwide. Murdock concluded, "the nuclear family is a universal human social grouping, either as the sole prevailing form which more complex forms are compounded, it exists as a distinct an strongly functional group in every known society". The family is universal because it performs essential function necessary for survival and continuity. ...read more.


However, the family cannot provide all the socialisation the individual needs. That is why we have the education system which is secondary socialisation for the individual. The education system allows the individual to make friends and understand how to treat other ethnic backgrounds. To continue, another purpose of the family for society and its individual members is the economic function. Murdock argues that the economic function is "most readily and satisfactorily achieved by persons living together". He refers to the division of labour within the labour where the husband does certain activities and the wife does others. This provides rewarding experiences for the children working together, and fulfils the economic function of society. However, there is some evidence of many exceptions to the family. For example, the sixties commune movement was a less organised effort to change the nuclear family. The commune movement has been around for thousands of years, where people have lived in small communities working and looking after their children together. ...read more.


Another exception is the Kibbutz. This is a type of family that a group of people live on a communal farm. This was set up in Israel in 1948. The work is shared by all the parents and the children are reared by special carers. The children only get to see their parents for a couple of hours a day and then they have to go and live in dormitories with all the other children. In my opinion, this isn't a family because they are not cared for by their parents and they do not live with their parents. Because they do not live with their parents they cannot form special bonds and therefore cannot love them as much as they would if there was a bond. Overall, I think that the family is a universal institution, because the family can have many different structures for different cultures and societies, which all meet the family functions in different ways. However the functionalist's definition of the family is not universal because they do not see the sixties commune movement as a family. Therefore they believe that the family is not universal. ?? ?? ?? ?? Amy Morris 12/8 Sociology Family 1 ...read more.

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

3 star(s)

Overall this essay explains the functionalist view well and provides some good examples of families to counter the debate. However, there is a lack of sociologists and alternative perspectives in the essay. At times the discussion is personal opinion rather than using sociological evidence.

Overall: ***

Marked by teacher Matthew Wilkin 09/03/2013

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