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Does the nuclear family make an ideal living arrangement?

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Introduction

Does the nuclear family make an ideal living arrangement? The view that the nuclear family makes an ideal living arrangement for individuals and society supports a traditional functionalists view in that the nuclear family is 'ideal'. Functionalists such as Murdock, are supporters of the nuclear family, which he defined as "A social group characterised by common residence, economic co-operation & 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 co-habitating adults". Murdock argued that the family performs 4 basic functions- sexual, reproductive, economic and socialisation, and these functions are necessary for society to exist. ...read more.

Middle

This view of the instrumental and expressive roles for men and women is quite old fashioned. Nowadays both roles are taken up by both sexes. More women are now wage earners and more men take a role in childcare. For functionalists, family life is a happy and harmonious well-integrated institution and is essential in any society. Marxist do not regard the family as a functional necessity, they see the family as performing a vital role for the capitalist economy. Criticisms of Murdock and Parsons come from the fact, that they idealised the nuclear family. Both Murdock and Parsons portrayed the image of the family as having well adjusted children and sympathetic spouses who care for each other's needs. ...read more.

Conclusion

it produces the new generation of workers by rearing children to be workers. Radical feminists say that the family reproduces 'Patriarchy' a system dominated by men and inculcating children with 'patriarchal ideology'. The women in the family are exploited with sexual, reproduction and domestic labour being performed unpaid. So women work for free to reproduce labour power for the capitalists. In conclusion, for functionalists the family is a crucial institution for maintaining the smooth running of society. For Marxists/feminists, the family is seen as vital in the reproduction of capitalism. In general though, the family is regarded as the cornerstone of society forming the basic unit of social organisation, and on balance it has been regarded as a good thing, both for the individual and society as a whole. ...read more.

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