George Murdock (1948) believed in a ‘Nuclear Family’. The term is used to define a family consisting of a Mother, Father and a child. Murdock stated that the nuclear family was fully functional for society as it fulfilled four essential functions: The sexual function, the reproductive function, the educational function and the economic function. The sexual function consists of the two parents fulfilling each other’s sexual needs which Murdock believed could strengthen the bond between a couple. The reproductive function consists of the bearing and raising of children with the responsibility of them and simply if reproduction did not occur then societies would not exist. The educational function consists of the responsibility of transmitting societies ways of life, social norms and values to the children. The economic function allows a family to provide for its members, giving them food and shelter. Murdock claims that he found evidence of a nuclear family and so he argues that it is universal. However Murdock’s research is limited because he ignores diversity. His research is based on the nuclear family but in modern society there are many different family types such as homosexual couples and single parent families. The nuclear family is not considered the norm anymore therefore the functionalist theory may be deemed irrelevant in today’s society.
Many feminists argue that despite women having the opportunity to work as men to, there is little evidence that the average family is symmetrical. It is claimed that women have simply acquired a dual burden of paid work and housework. This leads to claims that the family remains patriarchal as men benefit from both women’s earnings and their domestic labour. Elsa Ferri and Kate smith (1996) found that the increased employment of women has little impact on domestic labour. On a sample of 1589 33 year old fathers and mothers, the father took the main responsibility for childcare in fewer than four percent of families....
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