Is the Nuclear family a universal human social grouping?

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Is the Nuclear family a universal human social grouping?

Nicola Kelly


This essay will explore whether the family is in fact a universal human social grouping. The term ‘universal’ means applicable to all cases, so, for this to be correct the nuclear family must be found in all families in every society.

It is true that most societies have the nuclear family as their most common grouping. Yet what is considered normal in this society may be considered peculiar in another.

The family is not simply a natural, biological unit. They exist in some kind of form all over the world and are created by the norms and values of its society.

Everyone belongs to some kind of family and biologically has a mother and father; usually also a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or cousin.  

Many become members of a grouping they consider to be their ‘family’ because they can relate to them intimately or have been accepted and guided.

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In spite of that George Murdock believed that:


However, Murdock’s definition of the family disregards many other forms simply because they are arranged in a different way. Take a single parent family for example, a very common feature of most societies today, which Gonzales would say is a grouping in its own right. If the quote above is correct and applies to all families then a single woman or man with children does not count. On the other hand you might argue that a single parent originates from ...

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