Examine the View that the Family is a Universal Institution

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Amy Morris        12/8        Sociology


Examine the View that the Family is a Universal Institution

Many sociologists regard the family as the foundation of society. It forms the basic unit of social organisation and it hard to imagine how society could function without the family. The family is considered a good thing for individuals and society. There are many variations of the family, yet in general the most common type is the nuclear family. This consists of two adults of different genders with two dependant children. George Murdock took a sample of 250 societies and concluded that in some form the family existed in every society. Therefore the family is a universal institution; as there is a type of family in every society worldwide.

Murdock concluded, ”the nuclear family is a universal human social grouping, either as the sole prevailing form which more complex forms are compounded, it exists as a distinct an strongly functional group in every known society”. The family is universal because it performs essential function necessary for survival and continuity. This then proves that the family works efficiently together and uses its resources effectively in society.

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The family’s purpose for society is inseparable from its purpose for its individual members. The sexual function is a good example that the family serves both at the same time in the same way. The husband and wife have the right of sexual contact to each other and there are rules unwelcoming affairs in most societies. It also strengthens the family since sexual activities often unite husband and wife. The sexual function also contributes to steady society. The rules (which keep sexual activity within the family) prevent the effects on social order that would result if the ‘sex drive’ ...

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Overall this essay explains the functionalist view well and provides some good examples of families to counter the debate. However, there is a lack of sociologists and alternative perspectives in the essay. At times the discussion is personal opinion rather than using sociological evidence. Overall: ***