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

Assess the claim that the nuclear family is a universal institution.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Assess the Claim that the nuclear family is a universal institution Adam Hepburn 12L The Nuclear family is a family consisting of parents and their children and grandparents of a marital partner. There has been an on going argument among sociologists surrounding the debate for whether or not the nuclear family is a universal institution. Many different sociologists have presented many different theories regarding the question. The term "universal" refers to the whole world as one, therefore the question is asking for the opinion concerning the nuclear family and whether or not it is social accepted and seen as the norm throughout the world or whether there are other forms of family units and the nuclear family described at the start, is only recognised in certain parts of the world. However this question proposed has no exact answer, as there are so many different cultures to experience where they have their own style of nuclear families and interpret it completely differently to many others in other countries and social backgrounds. Many famous sociologists cast their personal views and theories on the matter. One main sociologist named Murdock claimed in 1949 that there are four main functions of the family. He concluded this theory after closely studying 250 different societies. ...read more.

Middle

Gonzalez performed a series of studies surrounding the family in 1985. She discovered the Matrifocal families. This is where the families are centred on the mother. She is the head of the family unit and she lives with her relatives. Gonzalez also claimed these families are called New World Black Families. In this set up, Gonzalez comments on how the mother would support the woman economically as the father was usually absent. Gonzalez therefore argues that Murdock should re-define the family. Different Sociologists such as Smith, Liebow and Lewis all have altered views on the causes of Matrifocal families. Smith comments on how he feels the plantation slavery being the main factor accounting for Matrifocal families. The father figurehead image was eroded after he was subject to the authority of plantation owner. Liebow focuses his opinion towards how the father believes he is unable to support his wife and children due to unemployment and poverty. This all stems from the father failing to provide daily for the family to survive sufficiently. There is also a sociologist named Lewis. Lewis feels that poverty is that main trigger behind Matrifocal families. It is now a common sight, a lone parent. It is now treated as a norm. Herskovits also took great interest in the Matrifocal families. ...read more.

Conclusion

The nuclear family is a universal institution to an extent. However, it is hard to justify that statement due to the small African societies who operate in a completely alien fashion to English families. Whether the nuclear family is universal depends on how it is defined. Relationships are universal, as is some form of co-residence, of intimacy, sexuality and emotional bonds. But the forms they can take are infinitely variable and can be changed and challenged as well as embraced. Murdock's evidence and views given at the start of the essay was the core from which to work from as he gave the first ground statement regarding the nuclear family. It was through this that other sociologists carried out research based around his theory. Murdock believes in the four essential functions for a family. However Gough and Gonzalez both argue that statement claiming that the families and societies they focused on managed and survived with few problems, and there were also many signs of family bonds and togetherness despite not performing the four essential functions. Educational, Economic, Sexual, Reproduction. It seems that many different people and sociologists all have their own ideas on what is exactly meant by the nuclear family. Through they're not being a definite description of a nuclear family there will never be precise recordings as to whether or not the nuclear family is a universal institution or not. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Sociology 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 GCSE Sociology essays

  1. Peer reviewed

    Is the Nuclear Family universal?

    4 star(s)

    In the past families worked together to produce food on farms, in more recent years this has changed in that families are a unit of consumption. Consumption is still a means of providing for the family but it involves buying and using services to provide for the family.

  2. The Family. Murdock claims that the family has and had four functions

    With the growth of capitalism in the 18th century, production was carried out not by members of the family but by workers that got paid a wage for their labour.The family became a

  1. To what extent do sociologists argue that the family is beneficial to society?

    New Right feel that the family is important in terms of its stability for the harmony and efficiency of society. In some ways the New Right views are very old fashioned as they see the family as the 'cereal packet family'.

  2. Is George Murdock's 'Nuclear Family' still, the norm in British society?

    Family 2003 Household Same Street 4.17% Same village 70.83% Same city 12.5% Same county 8.33% Same country 4.7% 1968 Household Same Street 8.33% Same village 79.16% Same city 8.33% Same county 4.18% Same country Ethnic Diversity 2003 Household English 83.33% English and one other backgrounds 12.5% Change in the role

  1. The Family As A Social Institution

    If one looks up the word Family in the Webster's dictionary there are 22 definitions given. The Australian Bureau of statistics defines the Family as "two or more persons related by birth, marriage or adoption who reside in the same household".

  2. Assess the Claim that the Nuclear Family is Universal.

    Obviously, in terms of age, the more contemporary the study undertaken will result in more accurate statistics than earlier studies as there is more information widely available and technology is enhanced than when Murdock's evaluation was undertaken in 1949. Murdock's key point that should be noted was, that even where

  1. Rawls claims that ‘utilitarianism does not take the distinction between persons seriously.’ Explain this ...

    For example, in a 'just' society the utilitarian could justify slavery if the rest of the citizen's happiness outweighed the discomfort of the minority slaves. Although it could be argued that Rawls too could justify slavery if the worst off, namely the slaves were to benefit, it would seem highly

  2. It has been claimed that the nuclear family is a universal feature of human ...

    However most sociologists would reject the argument that the family is simply a result of biological functions, they point towards the important that the role of culture plays in influencing the organization of families and kinships. They see families existence more social rather than biological terms.

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