Using material from Item 2b and elsewhere, assess the views that the nuclear family is no longer the norm

Authors Avatar by irusmol (student)

Using material from Item 2b and elsewhere, assess the views that the nuclear family is no longer the norm

The nuclear family consists of two generations living together, all related by blood or law. Oakley calls this the conventional family, because he believes it is universal and works effectively as part of a community. Leach calls this the ‘cereal packet family’ which is advertised to us as the perfect family, where everyone is valued. Despite this one structure of family being seen as the norm since the 70s, society today appears to moving towards a more diverse variety of family structures.

On the other hand, about 20% of households in the UK still fit this structure, it may no longer be the majority but many people still value it as the norm in society. It is also the most desirable family structure. This view is supported by both the Functionalists and New Right.

Parsons, a functionalist, believed that the expressive female and instrumental male roles in the family work as a team. This sexual division in the family present the woman as the child-rearer and the man as the breadwinner. This can be positive in the way that it provides an effective team that keeps the household secure, and in that the parents of the family only have to take on one respective role. Parsons also thinks that gender-role socialisation is important, this is an aspect of socialisation where the child learns what is expected of each gender. From an early age children are taught which toys and colours a boy or girl should like and what they should aspire to do when they grow up. Since children see their mother in the kitchen or clearing up, they think it is the done thing for girls to be busy with such responsibilities, and the boys learn that having a job would their role in the family. In family structures other than nuclear, the children would not have the opportunity to see how the male and female roles in the family divide the work necessary to keep a family together. On the other hand, our culture and media show children the ‘cereal packet’ family so children still grow up believing that the nuclear family is the norm and knowing how it works.

Join now!

A second functionalist, Murdock, would encourage a nuclear family because a necessary function of the family is reproduction, where the nuclear family unit is the best form for reproduction of future productions. This is because the husband can support his wife and their baby. Economically, Murdock thought the family was a necessary unit of food and shelter for the individual. The item supports this by saying that ‘Murdock saw the family as meeting its member’s economic needs’. With husband and wife working as a team e.g the husband earning the money for the food, the wife buying and cooking the ...

This is a preview of the whole essay