Topics: Family, Marriage, Sociology Pages: 9 (2755 words) Published: September 29, 2013

George Peter Murdock (Social Structure 250 societies) “A social group characterised by common residence, economic co-operation and reproduction. It includes adults of both sexes, at least two of whom maintain socially approved sexual relationship, and one or more children, own or adopted of the sexually co-habiting adults”. The family thus lives together, puts resources and produces offspring. Nuclear family is the smallest group.

Extended family is Nuclear family plus vertical and horizontal extensions. See the Kibbutz (pg. 455, Haralamabos).
Pg. 257. New World Black Family

Herskovits – polygamy causes matrifocality
M.G. Smith – slavery formed mother and child as one unit, excluding father. Liebow – desertion of males due to inability to support family. Oscar Lewis – matrifocal families are so prevalent that they are not simply with product of poverty, but also a culture – subculture.

Support for G. P. Murdock
1) statistics show matrifocal families are not the norm.
2) matrifocal family is a broken nuclear family.
3) Blacks regard the ‘ideal’ mainstream family as ideal. 4) Matrifocal families is the family ‘gone wrong’, it is full of disorganisation and thus not an alternative to the nuclear family.

Against Murdock
1) statistics don’t mean its not recognised as an international family structure. In many societies, polygamy, polygamous marriages are a minority, yet sociologists accept them a form of extended family. 2) In low-income areas, the matrifocal family is expected and accepted. 3) Matrifocal family members regard the unit as a family

4) Female-headed families are well organised and are an adaptation to the economic circumstances of poverty. Common - law, visiting unions. 5) The supposed harmful effects of the matrifocal family are far from proven.

Diana Gittens
“While it can be argued that all societies have beliefs and rules on mating, sexuality, gender and age relations, the content of rules is culturally and historically specific and variable, and is in no way universal.”


What are the functions?
What are the functional relationships of members?
What are the functions to the members?

Murdock – sexual, reproductive, economic, educational and co-habitate. Parsons – ‘Primary Socialisation’ – early years of the child.
‘Secondary Socialisation’ – other institutions exert increasing influence.

Primary socialisation has two main processes:
1) The internalisation of society’s culture (norms and values). 2) Structuring of the personality.

Secondary socialisation;
1) stabilisation of adult personalities. (less close-knit extended families and ‘childish elements allowed to surface).

Critique - it is of a ‘well-adjusted’ unit with each caring for the other’s needs. - it represents the middle class American family.
- no consideration for alternatives (many functions are now controlled by state agencies).
- ignores the two-way interaction between individual and parent (spoilt child?).

Vogel & Bell (emotional scapegoating)
- look at emotionally disturbed children. Hostilities between parents are transferred and projected onto the children.
- what is dysfunctional for the children is functional for the parent, family and society. The cost of the child of low, relative to the functional gains of the family. - it is a personality – stabilising process, allowing them to function in the workplace and community.

Critique - functional is a matter of opinion. Relative low cost of the child is debatable. - See Bergers (pg. 464) on bourgeois family.
- Edmund Leach of runaway world? (pg. 465) overloaded electrical circuit. Privacy (nuclear family) is a source of fear and violence. NB “Far from being the basis of a good society, the family, with its narrow privacy and tawdry secrets, is the source of all our discontents.”


Laing “Politics of the...
Continue Reading

Please join StudyMode to read the full document

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Family as a Primary Group Essay
  • Essay about Problems That Families Face in Canada
  • Sociological theories about the modern family Essay
  • american family Essay
  • Research Paper Soc 213 Same Sex Parenting
  • Family Essay
  • Family Research Paper
  • Defining Family Essay

Become a StudyMode Member

Sign Up - It's Free