Using item A and other sources of information, examine the suggestion that the nuclear family is not a universal institution

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Using item ‘A’ and other sources of information, examine the suggestion that the nuclear family is not a universal institution (24 marks)

The nuclear family is a household of two generations – married parents and children. It is also known as the ‘cereal packet family’. Different perspectives see the family as providing different roles within society and whether these roles have a negative or positive effect. The idea of it being a universal institution is an arguable one and one that many different sociological perspectives have many different views on.

The functionalist’s would say that the Nuclear Family is a universal institution as it is the reason why and is crucial for the function and maintaining of society. They argue that the nuclear family carries out the essential roles and functions such as ‘socialising us all into culture and skills’ and helping us to ‘develop relationships and maturity’. In this way it is obvious that the nuclear family is a universal institution as without it all the inter related systems that build a society would fail to work and society as a whole would collapse and with it civilisation. However there are different situations within which different groups of people may don’t be able to be within a nuclear family and this could be viewed as one of the reasons why the capitalist system in which we live and in some ways depend may be failing.

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Feminists and feminism would also back the view that the nuclear family is not an institution which is universal and available to everyone. They believe that the nuclear family does not benefit the society as a whole and instead promotes and encourages a patriarchal and segregated society in which other humans are shunned and seen as being lesser to others. In this way the nuclear family is an institution which is clearly universal and only certain ‘worthy’ people are allowed and able to experience the benefits that it apparently provides. This segregation may not only occur for women but also ...

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