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

Is the Family Universal?

Extracts from this document...


Is the 'Family' Universal? The universality of the family has always been accepted as a sound hypothesis in anthropology; recently, Murdock has been able to confirm this hypothesis on the basis of his important cross-cultural study of kinship. Furthermore, Murdock reports that the "nuclear" family is also universal, and that typically it has four functions: sexual, economic, reproductive and educational. What is more important is his finding that no society "has succeeded in finding an adequate substitute for the nuclear family, to which it might transfer these functions"? In the light of this evidence there would be little reason to question his prediction that " it is highly doubtful whether any society ever will succeed in such an attempt. ...read more.


The immense social utility of the nuclear family and the basic reason for its universality thus begins to emerge in strong relief. Although sexual, economic, reproductive and educational activities are the functional prerequisites of any society it comes as somewhat of a surprise, nevertheless, that all four functions are served by the same social group. One would normally assume, on purely a priori grounds, that within the tremendous variability to be found among human cultures, there would be some cultures in which these four functions were distributed among more than one group. Logically, at least, it is entirely possible for these functions to be divided among various social groups within society; and t is, indeed, difficult to believe that somewhere man's inventive ingenuity should not have actualised this logical possibility. ...read more.


To expand Murdock's rule to accommodate other types of families would make it better and more sensible for modern day society but then it wouldn't be Murdock's rule. When Murdock was writing the nuclear family may have been the most socially accepted family but times have changed and the family has evolved to accommodate different peoples views opinions and feelings towards what the family is, so even though Murdock's view of the family was right in the 1940's it is no longer a valid view of the family. Therefore the nuclear family is universal but so is the matrifocal step reconstituted and single parent. ...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)

    Although this is true the Kibbutz community is about sharing in that families work together and share property, this can also be compared to how they 'share' they're children. The children of the community are seen as a responsibility to everyone not just the parents.

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

    This idea, since it is coming from a recent contemporary issue, it displays the current views that can be debated about the society in the UK. So, obviously, from the previous paragraph, Marxists believe that patriarchal societies dominate the family institution, but they feel that it is extremely exploitative and wish for communism.

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

    I have chosen to use a Quota Sampling. The Quota, which I shall use, will be 5 females and 5 males from the age range 20-70. As this will allow my research to be more representative allowing me to make more accurate conclusions to whether the nuclear family is still the norm in British society.

  2. 'The Family Is Universal'

    There are many other living arrangements that can be classed as a family and carry out all the functions that the nuclear family carries out. Some sociologists would say that Murdock's definition is dated and is too exclusive, that it doesn't take into account the different things that have changed in society.

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