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Assess the Claim that the Nuclear Family is Universal.

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Introduction

Assess the Claim that the Nuclear Family is Universal We know that the nuclear family consists of a unit, which has an adult male and female with their dependant offspring, but to start with, we must clarify a common ground on what 'Universal' actually means. Well, universal is including or covering all, as a whole, without exception, which occurs everywhere. This means that if the nuclear family is universal, then it must take place in all countries and societies. Despite this indisputable fact, there are so many different views and concepts that conflict with one another from many different sociologists that have studied the universality of the family in close detail. The first sociologist I am going to look at is Murdock, whose studies were carried out in 1949. The reason that he is a predominant sociologist, when it comes to the family, is mainly because he studied 250 societies, which gave him a large insight to the world around us including minor tribes and LEDC's (less economically developed counties), but also allows us to make a generalisation. All of the societies in Murdock's sample displayed some form of family organisation. More specifically, although many societies were organised into polygamous and extended families, even these had at least two nuclear families per polygamous or extended family household as a base, which forms the family. ...read more.

Middle

In many areas of Kibbutz, children are raised from a young age by nurses and teachers, not by their parents, which conveys that this function is not necessarily performed under the nuclear family life. The structure of kibbutz life therefore raises questions about the universality of the family and the nature of family relations. The third exception that contradicts Murdock's view is the different concepts that Nancy Gonzalez believes when she carried out her research in 1985. These concepts and arguments stem form the research she did in the West Indian Matrifocal family otherwise know as New world Black families. Matrifocal can be defined as female orientated, where the female has the authority within the family. For many lower-class West Indians, the role of the father in family life is negligible, hence the focus being revolved around the woman. The mother is the central figure after a household comes into existence when a man and a woman set up house together. Their cohabitation is sometimes based on a legal marriage, but this is not necessarily the case. What makes the Matrifocal family unusual is that the husband takes little or no part in childcare and may spend little time at home, often living elsewhere in the same community. ...read more.

Conclusion

Parsons says that the family has to include two irreducible functions. These are primary socialisation, which is the teaching of basic norms, beliefs and values within the family; and, the second, which is that the family is a vehicle to release tension and let off steam, before going out into the outside community in a calm and civil manner. So basically, the main argument for the essay is dependant on how the universal is defined. For the basis of my essay I have defined it so that the nuclear family must take place in all countries and societies, without exceptions, and, here I have found in my research a number of these, which obviously shows that although there are nuclear families around the globe, not all societies have them. Therefore to conclude the discussion, I believe that after studying the concepts, theories and many, many sociologist perspectives, it has become quite apparent that although the nuclear family is commonly found in societies, it is not in all. The fact that a rookie sociologist like myself disagrees with a great sociologist such as Murdock is because he was working within different parameters, i.e. because he defined 'universal' differently to me, he felt that as exceptions are few in number and are not statistically different, it didn't affect his case, whereas I feel it does. ...read more.

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