Assess the view that the nuclear family functions to benefit all its members and society as a whole

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Sociology Essay: Using Information from items A, B, C and elsewhere, assess the view that the nuclear family functions to benefit all its members and society as a whole.

The Nuclear Family is formed from two generations, i.e. an adult heterosexual marriage and their dependent children, all living, in the same household. Each theoretical perspective all have different opinions on what the nuclear family represents. For example feminists believe the nuclear family suggests the woman would have to stay at home to cook, clean and tend the children while the man would have a job and provide the family with wealth. However, in less than 40 years, the proportion of households fitting this nuclear family description has dropped from 52 per cent to just 36 per cent of people in the U.K living as a Nuclear family. Here is a short essay discussing my view of different theoretical perspectives on whether the Nuclear family benefits all its members and society as a whole.

Functionalists believe that society is based on a value consensus – a set of shared norms and values – into which society socialises its members. This enables them to cooperate harmoniously to meet society’s needs and achieve shared goals. Functionalists see the family as a particularly important to society because it plays the dominant role amongst all social institutions in making individuals feel part of wider society. George Peter Murdock, conducted his own enquiry into the family life and compared over 250 societies, and in result claims that the nuclear family was universal, i.e. that some form of it existed in every known society, and that it always performed four functions essential to the continued existence of those societies; reproductive, sexual, educational and economic. He believed they all benefit society because it is assumed without question that family members should take their place in the economy and the division of labour as specialized wage-earners, thereby contributing to the smooth running of the economy and society. Another famous sociologist Parsons also agrees that the Nuclear family is a good institution for society, as he believes that there are two main functions that the family fulfil in society. Therefore, in conclusion to the functionalists, they all do believe that the Nuclear family does benefit all its members and society as a whole, as it does succeed in being a very harmonious institution as well as fulfilling certain roles in society.

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On the other hand, Marxists as well as feminists both disagree with the functionalists view on the family life. Marxists are very critical of the process of primary socialization in the nuclear family because they argue that it reproduces and maintains class inequality. They argue that the main function of a nuclear family is to distract the working class from the fact they are being exploited by capitalism. This is done by; the hierarchal way in which nuclear families are traditionally organized i.e., the male being the head of the household which discourages workers from questioning the hierarchical nature of ...

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