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

The Family in Sociology

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

The Family in Sociology In pre-modern and modern societies the family has been regarded as the most basic unit of social organisation. The nuclear family (husband, wife and two children) has been portrayed as the normal or conventional family type by many sociologists. However from the 1960s the nuclear family has come under criticism from a number of sociologists who began to question the idea that the family was a beneficial institution. It is clear however families in modern times have changed greatly from those of the pre-industrial era, they are smaller. The many types of family diversity that is now more common have replaced the extended family of this era. To evaluate the usefulness of having a prevailing image of the typical nuclear family firstly all the theories will have to be assessed. A strong supporter of the family is the functionalist. Their belief is that the family is the "cornerstone of society". In a study on the family George Peter Murdock (Social Structure 1949) studied 250 societies, he came to the conclusion that the "nuclear family is a universal human social grouping...it exists as a distinct and strongly functional group in every known society". ...read more.

Middle

The primary socialization of children involves two processes, which are the internalisation of societies culture and the structuring of personalities. Parsons could conceive of no institution other than the family that could provide the warmth, security and mutual support needed to complete these processes. The stabilization of adult personalities focuses on the husband-wife relationship. Since the isolated nuclear family does not have the security once provided by the close knit extended family the married couple look to each other for emotional support and so helps to stabilize their personalities. He claims that the nuclear family in industrial society is no less important than it was, it is simply more specialised. Criticisms of Parsons theory come from the fact that he idealised the nuclear family. He portrays his image of the family as having well adjusted children and sympathic spouses who care for each other's needs. Marxists feminists criticise the family as they focus on the double exploitation of women by capitalism and men. They argue men dominant family relationships and that domestic labour within the family serves the need of a capitalist economy. ...read more.

Conclusion

Among these there is other forms of family diversity that have become more prominent. Gay and lesbian households have become more commonplace. There is also the reconstituted family, a family created from pieces of former families. Having examined the different theories and opinions on the family it can be concluded the ideology of the nuclear family often obscures reality. Statistics show that the nuclear family is not the dominant family type instead a diversity of family types exists. A study done at the end of the 1980s by the European Co-ordination Centre for Research and Documentation in Social Science (Boh 1989) showed evidence that family life did have certain trends that were widespread across Europe. All 14 of the European countries studied had experienced rising divorce rates, co-habitation has become more common and the birth rate had declined everywhere. Throughout Europe a greater range of family types is being accepted as legitimate and normal. The prevailing image of the typical nuclear family can be useful for many individuals however the options now available to men and women give them the right to choose the family type they wish to have. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 Christine Dodson ...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. To what extent do sociologists argue that the family is beneficial to society?

    carry out domestic labour, allowing the male to go out to work and earn money. They argue that a male is made into a more productive worker by his wife who performs domestic chores such as washing and cooking. This benefits society, as the male has become more productive in his work.

  2. A-Level Sociology Theory + Methods Revision.

    across a range of different situations i.e. in class, around school, during leisure activities etc. He also tape-recorded unstructured interviews some taking the form of group discussions. Key Points - * "Lads" rejected the school crating their own counter-school culture. I.e. opposed to M.C. values + goals of the school, authority of teachers + conformist pupils "ear'oles".

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

    Most children are brought up in nuclear families, most marriages end with death not divorce and divorcees are usually keen to marry again" The result graphs, I have produced clearly show that the nuclear family as popular as ever, graph a shows.

  2. Free essay

    Major trends of Sociology

    Marxists argue that the functionalist view is a misapprehension to think of modern society as one which is in a continuous state of harmony. On the contrary, every society is characterised by continuous conflict. There exists a struggle between the various groups and classes of society.

  1. Max Weber: Basic Terms (The Fundamental Concepts of Sociology)

    Protestantism had a further new development, which was the valuation of the fulfillment of duty in worldly affairs as the highest form which the moral activity of an individual could assume. The only way of living acceptably to God was solely through the fulfillment of the obligations imposed upon the

  2. The Nuclear family

    argues that "the family in modern capitalist society creates the illusion that the 'private life' of the family is quite separate from the economy" (Sociology Themes and Perspectives, 471, 2004). Although he believes this, he believes the capitalism is perpetuated by family consumption of the products, which keeps it going.

  1. The Family

    Geough claimed the family unit did exist, because of the fact a marriage took place and children were born. She had to broaden her definition of marriage beyond that of Murdocks. Geough defined marriage as a relationship between a woman and one or more persons in which a child is

  2. Is sociology a science?

    Understanding the construction of meanings and self-concepts involves an appreciation of the way actors interact the process of interaction. Interactionists admit the existence of roles but regard them as unclear, ambiguous and vague. Sociologists don't just raise issues and talk about them in an abstract way.

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