ASSESS THE FUNCTIONALIST VIEW THAT THE NUCLEAR FAMILY IS VITAL TO SOCIETY
Nuclear families are defined as 2 generations living together – parents and their children. Functionalists believe it is the most ideal for their members financially and emotionally. Murdock, a functionalist, believes that the family is a universal social institution; that it exists in every society. Murdock is quoted as saying:
“The family is a social group characterized by common residence, economic co-operation and reproduction. It includes adults of both sexes, at least two of whom maintains a socially approved sexual relationship, and one or more children, own or adopted, of the sexually cohabiting adults.’
He states that there are four main functions of the nuclear family.
1. Economic: a family not only provides support emotionally, but also financially. A family should be sharing their assets and resources.
2. Education: school is not the only place where a child learns. As they grow up, they pick up norms and values from all their surroundings and their company. Family teaches the children the norms and values of society.
3. Reproduction: family helps produce new generations.
4. Sexual Regulation: although not all societies are monogamous, Murdock believes that family helps control sexual behavior through marriage.
Talcott Parsons, another functionalist, agrees that nuclear is the best type of family for performing functions, but that the purpose of the family can be reduced to two ‘basic irreducible’ functions.
1. Socialisation of Children: similar to Murdock’s ‘Education’, children are though basic norms and values.
2. Stabilisation of adult personalities: family fulfils the emotional needs of adults, particularly those who lead stressful lives. The family units allow the adults to act out their childish side if they wish, and to have fun and relax.
When taking into consideration how much society has changed in the past 40 years since Murdock and Parsons...