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It has been claimed that the nuclear family is a universal feature of human societies.

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Introduction

It has been claimed that the nuclear family is a universal feature of human societies. Many sociologists have regarded the family as the cornerstone of society, as it forms the basic unit of social organization. The nuclear family has traditionally been defined as, the basic family unit, consisting of adult partners and their dependent children. Although the composition of the family varies as sociological research reveals that our view of what a family should be may vary from that of other cultures, such differences can be seen as variation on a basis theme. Some sociologists claim that in general there are many universal similarities in family life, therefore the family has been seen as a universal social institution. This view is mainly held by functionalists such as Murdock. Functionalists have traditionally stressed the positive role of the family in society, regarding it as carrying out beneficial functions which help to maintain the very existence of society. Functionalists regard the family as a means of social control, as parents enforce certain behavior patterns on their children. The child learns the culture of their society within the family, as they are thought norms and values of society according to what their society considers socially acceptable behavior. ...read more.

Middle

Where men and women usually form couples and marry, their children are seen as the responsibility of the Kibbutz as a whole. They are brought up by specially trained foster parents in a separate children's home, visiting their parents for only a short time each day. Some sociologists argue that the family does not exist as a unit in the traditional Kibbitz since some of its essential functions for example the couple do not form a residential unit with their children and the socialising of children is seen as the responsibility of the whole community. However a major exception to the nuclear family is the matrifocal or matriarchal family, these are terms used to define female-headed families. Matrifocal families are common in low-income black communities in the USA. In 1985, 51 per cent of all black children with fathers absent from the home lived with their mothers. Nancie Gonzalez in her study of Livingston, Honduras in 1956, found that 45 per cent of black arib families had female heads. Murdock's definition of the family included at least one adult of each sex, therefore it is claimed that the matrifocal family simply isn't performing basic family functions, so it can not be called a family unit. ...read more.

Conclusion

More than 95% of people marry today, However the number of people cohabiting has trebled. In 1992 only 24% of households consisted of nuclear families, according to Robert and Rhona Rapoport, "more people are now choosing to have different types of family life". Therefore the nuclear family is not so universal as it is portrayed to be. In all areas of sociology, functionalists perspective on the family have been accused of having a conservative bias. With their emphasis on the universality and inevitability of the family, as they justify its existence, with their preoccupation with positivism. As Barrington Moore argues, " I have the uncomfortable feeling that authors, despite all their elaborate theories and technical research devices, are doing little more than projecting certain middle-class hopes and ideas into refractory reality". Leach sums up the basic jest of what moore was saying in three words as he calls this ideology the " cereal packet image". Although functionalist views on the family are no longer particularly influential in sociology, similar views are still influential in society. David Cooper argues that the families ideological conditioning device is exploiting ----------------- Haralambos and Holborn , (1995). Sociology, Themes and Perspectives Uwin Hyman Ltd. Stehen Moore, (1998) Letts, Study Guide, A Level,Sociology, Jordon publishing design Paul Taylour et ct (1995) Sociology in focus Causeway Press ...read more.

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