Outline and evaluate the view that the nuclear family is the ideal family form. [33 marks]

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Outline and evaluate the view that the nuclear family is the ideal family form. [33 marks]

Murdock, a functionalist, undoubtedly argues that the nuclear family is universal and that it is the ideal family form; due to it being able to meet the four essential needs of society: Reproduction, sexual, education and economic, and the fact that the nuclear family is adapted to modern society. Murdock defines the nuclear family as a family that consists of two heterosexual married couples, with their dependent children.

Murdock argues that without these essential functions (or consensuses), society cannot operate. He specifically believes that the nuclear family can indisputably assist with these essentials, and that no other family type can do so. Nevertheless, Murdock has been heavily criticised for ignoring family diversity, as it common approach in our contemporary society. Other sociologists would conclude that other family types (other than the nuclear family); can perform the consensuses required for society. In fact, studies show that less than 40% of the population live in a nuclear family.  In addition, referring back to Murdock’s definition of the nuclear family, family types such as gay families do not conform to his definition, because they do not contain adults of both sexes. Nonetheless, they may have dependent children from a previous heterosexual relationship, or may have adopted children.

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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 ...

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