Page
  1. 1
    1
  2. 2
    2
  3. 3
    3

Is the Nuclear Family universal?

Do not show me this again

Are you in the right place?

Jump to Sociology and see how teachers think you should prepare in:

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Is the Nuclear Family Universal? A nuclear family is a family that consists of two cohabiting parents in a sexual relationship with children. The parents must be heterosexual as this is 'socially acceptable', a nuclear family does not have to contain a certain amount of children and the children may be adopted or step children. The nuclear family can also contain an extended family such as a spouse of the children or a grandparent. This idea was first developed by Murdock who believed the nuclear family was universal. George Peter Murdock was a Sociologist who was prominent around 1940 onwards when he developed his 'nuclear family' idea which he believed to be universal. The nuclear is a unit of people living together and this could be considered universal as most countries and cultures raise their children within their own household. Murdock was one of the first sociologists to propose the idea of a nuclear family and applied it to all cultures proclaiming it was universal. Economic cooperation, common residence and reproduction are the main points of the nuclear family and Murdock believed all these things applied to families around the world. ...read more.

Middle

In the Nayar society the husband and wife did not live together, there was no commitment to each other, the children were not necessarily fathered by the husband and the husband had no obligation to provide for them economically. This system worked for the Nayar society and showed the point that different societies can have varied definitions of what a family is. There is nothing that shows that these types of family do not work as the children in a Nayar society still received care and primary socialisation just they were not cared for by two cohabiting parents. Socialisation is very important and as the children would still receive it society has filled its main objective to carry on with its culture and values leading on into the future. Another example of not having a universal family archetype is the Lakker who reside in Burma; they do not believe there is a blood tie between mother and child. Women are seen as a container for the child to be born from rather than an actual blood relation. Their society allows for children of the same mother but different father to be sexual partners. ...read more.

Conclusion

Also socially acceptable relationships are not withheld by the Lakker in that they are able to have sexual relations with half brothers or sisters. The family according to Murdock work as a unit and pool their resources, share an income and to an extent share domestic tasks, the Kibbutz community does this but not in the standard way in that the community supports itself and everyone in it not just their own immediate family. In conclusion there are parallels between the nuclear family and other cultures as previously mentioned but to fit the nuclear family label the communities just don't fulfil all of the requirements. The nuclear family clearly isn't universal as a whole but certain aspects of it are in different countries and communities. Murdock's idea of the nuclear family is a little narrow sighted in that not all families are happy ones or involve all of his functions and his idealistic view of a family. Different communities believe in different things and to say everyone in the world is exactly the same is evidently wrong. From this it can be said the theory of a nuclear family cannot be universal as everyone around the world is individual and as individualism becomes more prominent the nuclear family will cease to exist in even a large majority of countries. ...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

Here's what a star student thought of this essay

4 star(s)

Response to the question

This question has been answered fairly well for a GCSE candidate. The writer evidently has a sound understanding which is shown particularly with multiple references to Murdock, who is a key sociologist in the field of the family as a ...

Read full review

Response to the question

This question has been answered fairly well for a GCSE candidate. The writer evidently has a sound understanding which is shown particularly with multiple references to Murdock, who is a key sociologist in the field of the family as a universal institution. Murdock’s ideas are referred to (or criticised) throughout the essay, which is useful to do as it shows that the writer has understood the question being set, as they can apply his theory to other families in different societies. This shows that the writer can evaluate, by providing modern examples of families that disprove the “nuclear family is universal” theory. The essay is well structured, with a good introduction and conclusion, which makes it clear and easy to read.

Level of analysis

The writer uses sociological terminology in context frequently; however I feel that this could be used with regard to Functionalism, improving the essay to the highest standard which can be expected at GCSE level. For example when the writer refers to concepts such as “primary socialisation” and “economic cooperation” they could explain that these are Functionalist ideas, and that Murdock is a Functionalist. This is because he indeed sees the nuclear family as universal, as they all provide these concepts.
The writer has made cross-cultural comparisons to argue against the idea that the nuclear family is universal. They have successfully done this by providing examples of other family types, for example the Kibbutz in Israel, and then relating this back to the norms we have in the UK. This shows that they have an awareness of other societies and cultures, and that they have different norms and values to what we do in the UK. Most candidates tend to forget that they need to apply theories to other peoples/places around the globe, so this writer should be credited for their multitude of examples. But they should more explicitly use the terms “norms and values” as this is essentially the reason that we have a variety of families – not just the nuclear. In doing this I feel it would demonstrate and crystallise their understanding of sociology.

Quality of writing

The quality of writing is of a high standard. Spelling is accurate and the use of some punctuation is effective in demonstrating that the writer is aware of sociological key terms. This is because the essay uses quotation marks to show that a sociologist has developed this concept: “nuclear family”. The only minor comment I would make would be to perhaps use more varied punctuation. For example, “Sexual relationships being the means of reproduction this links in to the idea of marriage and socially approved relationships”, could be improved by inserting a hyphen: “Sexual relationships being the means of reproduction - this links in to the idea of marriage and socially approved relationships”. This just ensures that the essay makes more grammatical sense.


Did you find this review helpful? Join our team of reviewers and help other students learn

Reviewed by cwhite 26/02/2012

Read less
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. Polygamy in Today's Society.

    It would also make the divorce rate decrease dramatically because instead of getting divorced you could just add the mistress to the family, which would cause a lot less emotional stress and less of a financial burden for the family.

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

    Peggy Morton argued that modern capitalism relied less on direct coercion to control workers. She felt that the acceptance of hierarchical social relationships was more relied upon for this function. It is strongly argued by Marxist-feminists that women suffer disadvantages in employment due to their childcare and domestic chore responsibilities.

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Assess the contribution of functionalism to our understanding of the family.

    4 star(s)

    dependency and the nature of the family denies women the opportunity to participate in the wider society and achieve equality with men. Feminists challenge functionalist's views that women are sensitive, patient and kind by nature, with their expressive role involving them looking after men, children and the home.

  2. What is Sociology?

    Whereas Psychology examines the internal workings of the individual in terms of their mental processes. But again there are aspects of psychology which examine external relations whilst there are aspects of sociology which examine the 'internal' workings of individuals' minds.

  1. The Go-between, while a powerful story of a young boys premature involvement in an ...

    However this factor is just one among many contrasts between the two characters, as G.E. Brown reminds us Leos attitude is complicated by the admiration he feels for these men. Trimingham, like Mrs. Maudsley, stands for those in the aristocracy; Leo respects his standing in society but also respects him

  2. Feminist Criticism: Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart.

    "Okonkwo was provoked to justifiable anger by his youngest wife, who went to plait her hair at her friends house and did not return early enough to cook the afternoon meal." Showcasing violent outbursts is not uncommon in Umofia, and is actually seen as a way of punishing, teaching or

  1. Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man brilliantly brings together the themes of identity and responsibility through ...

    In essence Dr. Bledsoe is personifying the advice of the grandfather that you "should overcome them with yeses." Solving the contradiction within Dr. Bledsoe's words and society's duality towards blacks is the struggle that the narrator will regularly face throughout the novel.

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

    Murdock, in denying this view, stated without the family, society would cease to function. He also pointed out the key functions of the nuclear family. Murdock's main argument was that the nuclear family is the most efficient arrangement for performing the four essential functions and he went on to identify

  • Over 180,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work

Marked by a teacher

This essay has been marked by one of our great teachers. You can read the full teachers notes when you download the essay.

Peer reviewed

This essay has been reviewed by one of our specialist student essay reviewing squad. Read the full review on the essay page.

Peer reviewed

This essay has been reviewed by one of our specialist student essay reviewing squad. Read the full review under the essay preview on this page.

Do not show me this again

Are you in the right place?

Jump to Sociology and see how teachers think you should prepare in: