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Is The Nuclear Family Universal? Discus

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Is The Nuclear Family Universal? Discus The Nuclear family is fundamentally defined as a family unit consisting of a married couple and their offspring. A grandparent or a spouse of one of the children may be included. The initiative was first developed by Murdoch (A functionalist), and since then it has been a debatable issue between all sociologists. I will now elaborate on this further. The idea of a Nuclear family is primarily a functionalist perspective. Functionalists deem the family as universal; this idea can be instantly inked to Murdoch. They believe the nuclear family is good for society, it provides a firm set of Values and Norms, which is essentially important for any family to socialize (the main function of a nuclear family). Significantly they argue the nuclear family lays a set of rules, for one to follow- and therefore enables one to socialize in a better way, as they follow the same set of rules as another. They believe this is a common and universal factor within all societies around the world. Accordingly a famous functionalist also supported this view; George Peter Murdoch, he examined the institution of the family in a wide range of societies (Murdoch took a sample of 250 societies, ranging from small hunting and gathering bands to large scale industrial societies). ...read more.


Murdoch also made another conclusion from his analysis of 250 societies; this was that the family performs 4 basic functions; Sexual, Reproductive, Economic, and educational. He judged them to be essential for all cultures, and existed universally. Another famous functionalist who argued the case that the family was universal was Talcott Parsons. He concentrated his analysis on modern, industrialized American society. Despite this, his ideas have a more general application, since he argues the American family maintained two basic functions which are common to the family in all societies; primary socialization of the children, and the stabilization of the adult personalities. So basically these functionalists placed on emphasis on the functions of the family, and how the universal family is essential for co-operation to exist in any society. However there are many contradictory claims which differ from and question the consensus explanations offered by the likes of Murdoch, and Parsons. One particular person is Kathleen Gough, who claimed that the nuclear family was not universal, and that some societies have sets of relationships which are quite different to most others. She gave one such example of the Nayar society in southern India (prior to British rule being established in 1972) ...read more.


Another arising problem for the supporters of Murdoch and Parsons, are gay families; another type of household that may contradict Murdoch's claims about the universality of nuclear families. If a household does not contain adults of both sexes, at least two of whom maintain a socially approved sexual relationship, this causes problems for functionalists such as Murdoch and Parsons as family such as the ones conveyed cannot be described as nuclear families as defined by Murdoch himself. However supporters of Murdoch could also argue that such families only make up a minority of families and is not regarded as a norm in any of the societies. Having analyzed both sides of the argument, it is evident that both have strengths and weaknesses and could be modified-to be up to date with present society although some aspects of these theories can still be applied to modern day societies. So in conclusion I believe the nuclear family is universal although there are some minority families such as, gay families, and matrifocal families. Therefore I believe the same principles can be applied to many of the societies universally however there are some minorities. ?? ?? ?? ?? Sociology Mohsin Ali Raja 09/05/2007 ...read more.

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