Murdock and Talcott Parsons Views on Family

Topics: Sociology, Family, Nuclear family Pages: 8 (2856 words) Published: April 21, 2013
George Peter Murdock (1949) wanted to know if the family was not just cultural but universal (he claimed that it was universal). * Common residence
* Economic co-operation
* Adults including both sexes
* At least two have socially approved sex
* One or more children
* Biological or adopted
This he thought was the universal minimum. Which adults had sexual relations depended on the culture. He believed the nuclear family was the universal core of the world's large variety of kinship systems. From this a family could be extended vertically (with upper generations) or horizontally (with brothers and sisters of those with offspring). A criticism of Murdock was that to claim something is universal, it only needs one exception to falsify it. Kathleen Gough falsified Murdock’s theory with her study of the Nayar Women of India. Before reaching puberty, Nayar women in India were married to a man according to the Talikettukalydnam rite. This three days of actual or mock defloration might be their last living contact. From then on, as “mother”, each woman would take up to 12 sandbanham husbands, who visited her one at a time at night. A man could have an unlimited number of wives. The woman kept her room in the house, and it was first come, first served to supper and bed, so a man too late would sleep on the verandah of the house. So women getting pregnant could have any one of up to 12 as the father. So one of them of equal sub-caste (social class) declared as the father (whether he was or not) and gave a present of cloth and/ |

Clearly women getting pregnant could have any one of up to 12 as the father. So one of them of equal sub-caste declared as the father (whether he was or not) and gave a present of cloth and/ or vegetables to the attending midwife. A frequent visitor might send luxuries at festivals. That was it. The men weremercenary warriors and gave no attention to raising children or staying with the woman.| Support for the women instead came from brothers, sisters, and children of the sisters and daughters. The matrilineal family provided all her essentials. The eldest male was leader of each kin group. So the women lived not in families, but in kinship groups (mothers, sisters and brothers), and she had her place for sexual activity with the men over which she had considerable personal cotrol. Descent was down the stable female line in terms of charting the source of children, given that any man could be the father.| The important point here is that:|

* There was no economic unit regarding husbands and wives. * There was no sharing of the residence between husbands and wives. * Only the women within their supporting kinship groups lived with children. * Any relationship affection from the man was taboo and resisted by the kinship group.| There are two possibilities here, then, regarding Murdock and his definition of the family. * It is too narrow, or

* It is not universal.

It is the single parent family, especially female-headed, that is the most direct criticism of Murdock. Yet this is a minority, and the family may at least have begun as a two sex nuclear family and, furthermore, the nuclear family is preferred by him. The nuclear family may simply function better as a family - but this is unproven. Nevertheless there are varieties of arrangements for raising children that stretch Murdock's definition to breaking point.

The pre-industrial society is pictured as one where people are divided into kinship groups called lineages each of which is held to be descended from a common ancestor. Another form of family in pre-industrial society is found in traditional peasant societies such as the Irish farming community studied by C.M. Arensberg and S.T. Kimball in their work Family and Community in Ireland. This traditional Irish family is a patriarchal extended family. It is also patrilineal since property is passed from father to...
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