Similarly, functionalists, such as Parsons, argue likewise and state that the family has kept two essential functions: The primary socialisation of children and the stabilisation of adult personalities. Parsons argues that the nuclear family provides the norms and values of society required to socialise children as young as five; which will enable them to fit in with the mainstream culture of society, as their personalities have been moulded by those of their parent’s. The stabilisation of adult personalities, or what Parsons’ has named established as the “Warm Bath” theory, indentifies the husband being the breadwinner of the household, and the wife being the carer (or housewife). In his theory, he argues that the females are seen as the best figure for performing the domestic emotional role. In other words, caring for their husbands (or ‘alienated’ workers as Zaretsky, a Marxist, would say), by cooking and cleaning for them at no expense, and to help relieve their husband’s stress, of which he may experience from work.
Parsons is criticised for ignoring the possibility of socialisation being a ‘two-way’ process, and that the attempts of socialisation can be resisted by children. Moreover, radical feminists such as Millet criticised the warm bath theory as “sexist”. This mainly being because they believe the theory oppresses women, by males in which they call patriarchy (or male dominance), thus conclude the nuclear family encouraging the oppression of women. Notwithstanding, feminists argue that the nuclear family oppresses women; they fail to explain how women are exploited. For this reason, they are criticised for over-exaggerating patriarchy. Because of this, functionalism has been labelled as ‘overly harmonious’, as it is said to ignore the dark side of family life such as domestic violence and/or the everyday arguments and disputes.
Theories such as postmodernism, would argue against functionalism. Postmodernists believe that people should have their own say in the family structure that fits their needs best, whether it may be traditional or not. Stacey (1996) argued that there is no specific family form, in which would suit everyone. She goes on to state there are no agreed norms and values in family types. Respectively, she believes that family diversity is a good thing. New right thinkers would undeniably disagree with this concept. Like functionalists, new right thinkers believe that there is no substitute for the traditional nuclear family. If truth be told, Murray even goes to the extent of arguing that anything other than the nuclear family is “inferior” and that it shouldn’t be established as a “family”. On the other hand, Murray has been criticised for looking down on single mothers. He is victim blaming, meaning he is blaming the victims for problems that are not of their own making. Similarly, he stereotypes boys who are raised by single mothers, by saying they are more likely to be involved with crime than boys raised in a nuclear family. Because of this, he argues that this leads to an ‘underclass’ in our society: “In communities without fathers, the kids tend to run wild. The fewer the fathers, the greater the tendencies.” And so, the new right theory has been criticised by other sociologists who argue, that the theory is an idealised view of the past (for example, in the Victorian era), and that it does not completely fit in with today’s society.
Sociologists of different theories all have different perspectives of the nuclear family, and so cannot agree with the same concepts. Nonetheless, they all believe that the family is what shapes society in one way or another.