Economic cooperation is another key part of the nuclear family in that it is a unit of production or consumption. In the past families worked together to produce food on farms, in more recent years this has changed in that families are a unit of consumption. Consumption is still a means of providing for the family but it involves buying and using services to provide for the family. These are both universal aspects of a family in that a family provides for itself through earning or working. The educational process also begins within a family; after you are born you begin the process of primary socialisation in which you learn how to behave from your parents. Primary socialisation is the most important as without it culture would cease to exist and there would be no consensus of social norms and values. Although different cultures have different aspects each generation learns from its parents how to behave this being true to the theory of the universal nuclear family.
The Nayar society of southern India is a good example that shows the nuclear family is not universal and disproves Murdock's theory. In the Nayar society the husband and wife did not live together, there was no commitment to each other, the children were not necessarily fathered by the husband and the husband had no obligation to provide for them economically. This system worked for the Nayar society and showed the point that different societies can have varied definitions of what a family is. There is nothing that shows that these types of family do not work as the children in a Nayar society still received care and primary socialisation just they were not cared for by two cohabiting parents. Socialisation is very important and as the children would still receive it society has filled its main objective to carry on with its culture and values leading on into the future.
Another example of not having a universal family archetype is the Lakker who reside in Burma; they do not believe there is a blood tie between mother and child. Women are seen as a container for the child to be born from rather than an actual blood relation. Their society allows for children of the same mother but different father to be sexual partners. In Murdock’s Nuclear Family this would be seen as wrong and as incest, making this society another that doesn’t use nuclear family. Even though Murdock would claim that this society is wrong there is little to suggest it does not work in order to produce a working society or culture.
The Kibbutz, a branch of the Jewish faith, live in Israel and have yet another type of family again different from that of the nuclear family. Children are raised apart from their blood parents in different age groups to split them up. Although the children weren’t raised or looked after by the parents they would generally spend time with the children on evenings and on a weekend. It can be said this is not too dissimilar to the British norm of putting children into school of a weekday and taking them back for an evening or weekend. Although this is true the Kibbutz community is about sharing in that families work together and share property, this can also be compared to how they ‘share’ they’re children. The children of the community are seen as a responsibility to everyone not just the parents. Kibbutz children will grow up with the same social and cultural influences as that of a normal family even though it would be considered that the community is raising them.
Murdock’s main functions of a nuclear family can be applied to that of the Nayar, the Lakker and the Kibbutz in that there is Economic cooperation, whether it be raising, feeding or housing the children; sexual relationships and reproduction between two adults and finally education in which a child goes through primary socialisation learning how to behave within a culture whether it be from the birth parents or others. This being said there are also many differences between a nuclear family and that of the different types of family found from different places around the world. In a standard nuclear family the parents must be cohabiting which cannot be said about the Nayar in that the husband has no obligations to even see his wife. Also socially acceptable relationships are not withheld by the Lakker in that they are able to have sexual relations with half brothers or sisters. The family according to Murdock work as a unit and pool their resources, share an income and to an extent share domestic tasks, the Kibbutz community does this but not in the standard way in that the community supports itself and everyone in it not just their own immediate family.
In conclusion there are parallels between the nuclear family and other cultures as previously mentioned but to fit the nuclear family label the communities just don’t fulfil all of the requirements. The nuclear family clearly isn’t universal as a whole but certain aspects of it are in different countries and communities. Murdock’s idea of the nuclear family is a little narrow sighted in that not all families are happy ones or involve all of his functions and his idealistic view of a family. Different communities believe in different things and to say everyone in the world is exactly the same is evidently wrong. From this it can be said the theory of a nuclear family cannot be universal as everyone around the world is individual and as individualism becomes more prominent the nuclear family will cease to exist in even a large majority of countries.
Here's what a star student thought of this essay
Quality of writing
The quality of writing is of a high standard. Spelling is accurate and the use of some punctuation is effective in demonstrating that the writer is aware of sociological key terms. This is because the essay uses quotation marks to show that a sociologist has developed this concept: Ã¢â‚¬Å“nuclear familyÃ¢â‚¬Â. The only minor comment I would make would be to perhaps use more varied punctuation. For example, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Sexual relationships being the means of reproduction this links in to the idea of marriage and socially approved relationshipsÃ¢â‚¬Â, could be improved by inserting a hyphen: Ã¢â‚¬Å“Sexual relationships being the means of reproduction - this links in to the idea of marriage and socially approved relationshipsÃ¢â‚¬Â. This just ensures that the essay makes more grammatical sense.
Level of analysis
The writer uses sociological terminology in context frequently; however I feel that this could be used with regard to Functionalism, improving the essay to the highest standard which can be expected at GCSE level. For example when the writer refers to concepts such as Ã¢â‚¬Å“primary socialisationÃ¢â‚¬Â and Ã¢â‚¬Å“economic cooperationÃ¢â‚¬Â they could explain that these are Functionalist ideas, and that Murdock is a Functionalist. This is because he indeed sees the nuclear family as universal, as they all provide these concepts. The writer has made cross-cultural comparisons to argue against the idea that the nuclear family is universal. They have successfully done this by providing examples of other family types, for example the Kibbutz in Israel, and then relating this back to the norms we have in the UK. This shows that they have an awareness of other societies and cultures, and that they have different norms and values to what we do in the UK. Most candidates tend to forget that they need to apply theories to other peoples/places around the globe, so this writer should be credited for their multitude of examples. But they should more explicitly use the terms Ã¢â‚¬Å“norms and valuesÃ¢â‚¬Â as this is essentially the reason that we have a variety of families Ã¢â‚¬â€œ not just the nuclear. In doing this I feel it would demonstrate and crystallise their understanding of sociology.
Response to question
This question has been answered fairly well for a GCSE candidate. The writer evidently has a sound understanding which is shown particularly with multiple references to Murdock, who is a key sociologist in the field of the family as a universal institution. MurdockÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s ideas are referred to (or criticised) throughout the essay, which is useful to do as it shows that the writer has understood the question being set, as they can apply his theory to other families in different societies. This shows that the writer can evaluate, by providing modern examples of families that disprove the Ã¢â‚¬Å“nuclear family is universalÃ¢â‚¬Â theory. The essay is well structured, with a good introduction and conclusion, which makes it clear and easy to read.