• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Examine the view that the nuclear family is universal. (24)

Extracts from this document...


Examine the view that the nuclear family is universal. 24 The nuclear family is one which is often described as a household, of two parents and their dependent children. This is a view widely accepted by many sociologists, but they also argue that this may or may not be the universal family that all societies base their norms around. George Murdock, claims that this is true and that this type of nuclear family is universal and accepted by all as the 'right' type of family, however other sociologists specifically, Kathleen Gough, reject this claim and say that there are societies that are an exception to the rule. George Murdock in 1949 stated that the nuclear family was universal, this was based on his sample of 250 societies, ranging from small hunting and gathering bands to large-scale industrial societies. Murdock's definition of the family is that it is "a social group characterised by common residence, economic, cooperation and reproduction. It includes adults of both sexes, at least two of whom maintain a socially approved sexual relationship, and one or more children, own or adopted of the sexually cohabitating adults", this Murdock claimed was the nuclear family that existed in every society, and this family had four main functions. ...read more.


The final way this type of family rejects the claim that the nuclear family is universal is that the husbands and wives did not form an economic unit. Although husbands might give wives token gifts, they were not expected to maintain them, it was even frowned upon if they attempted to. Instead, the economic unit consisted of a number of brother and sisters, sister's children and their daughter's children. The eldest male was the leader of each group of kin. Gough claimed marriage and the family existed in the Nayar society. In order to make this claim, the definition of a family would have to be broadened and would reject the claim of Murdock, that there is one nuclear traditional family that is universal. Gough defined marriage as a relationship between a woman and one or more persons in which a child born to the woman 'is given full birth-status rights' common to normal members of society. Murdock's definition of the family includes at least one adult of each sex. However, both today and in the past, some children have been realised in households that do not contain adults of both sexes, where the household is usually headed by women, in matrifocal families. ...read more.


However, Sidney Callahan (1997) argues such households should still be seen as families. He claims that, if marriage was available, which it is now with the civil partnership Act of 2004, many gay and lesbian couples would marry. Callahan therefore claims gay and lesbian households with children should be regarded as a type of family, at least where the gay or lesbian relationships is intended to be permanent. He concludes "I would argue that gay or lesbian households that consist of intimate communities of mutual support and that display permanent shared commitments to intergrational nurturing share the kinship bonding we observe and name as family" In conclusion whether the family is regarded as universal ultimately depends on the definition of the family. This is seen through the vast majority of variation within families in society and domestic arrangements that are accepted within societies. Diana Gittins (1993) says "Relationships are universal, so is some form of co-residence, of intimacy, sexuality and emotional bonds. But the forms these can take are infinitely variable and can be changes and challenged as well as embraced". From this we can take the view that it may be pointless to define such a diverse institution as the family, as any relationship can reasonably be called a family. ?? ?? ?? ?? Georgina McDonald 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Family & Marriage section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Family & Marriage essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Examine the View that the Family is a Universal Institution

    3 star(s)

    The new world black family is another exception. It was found in America and the Caribbean. Where many families are headed by others and the fathers are absent. This then causes the family to be a lone parent family. The reasons for these are either that this family type was

  2. Sociology The Family

    (ASCHNCSociologyBSK/Family 11.8.07:20) The theories are different as functionalism emphasises stability, cohesion and consensus. The family is seen as functional and necessary. In comparison Marxism has shown that the interests of powerful groups have come to influence the way in which the family is structured today and argues that the economical

  1. How cultural deprivation affects the educational attainment of students.

    Results indicate that gender is not directly linked with pupil's future aspirations. Race Aspirations Indian African Caribbean 6th Form Education 8 College 4 Other Further Education 2 Job training Job 6 Don't know 2 Conclusion There is a clear contrast between aspirations of Indian and African Caribbean students.

  2. Discuss the view that the modern family is becoming more diverse

    Marxists also argue that the capitalist system is based on the domestic labour of housewives who reproduce future generations of workers and teach children to not aspire to greater things. The family also consumes the fruits of capitalism therefore allowing the ruling class to profit.

  1. Assess the view that the nuclear family functions to benefit all its members and ...

    for stable satisfaction of sexual needs, provides for the production and rearing of children and for the provision of a home. All three of these Functionalists are basically in agreement over the essential functions of the nuclear family and how they interact with the other institutions of society.

  2. Is the nuclear family in decline?

    that marriage is in decline and therefore the nuclear family is fast becoming an ideology that is fast losing its edge. Though the new right thinkers did agree that most people still marry and see it as a desirable thing to do, as the numbers of re-marriages have increased compared to all marriages (15%-40%).

  1. Sociology and the Family

    Hence, the nuclear family was realised. The apparent prevalence of the nuclear family is deemed favourable by functionalists. They ascertain that the nuclear family is a positive institution, accrediting their functions (primary socialisation ? the ingraining of values during childhood, reproduction ? married couples bearing children and economic support ? parents providing financial support for said children)

  2. Sociology Research Paper - To examine how teenage pregnancy affects the teen mothers health ...

    Teenage mothers usually never end up finishing school left alone a tertiary education hence the low education does not allow them to get a proper job and to take care of herself and the child resulting having mental health issues.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work