Is the nuclear family bad/harmful for its members?
This is an essay in which I will attempt to evaluate the premise of whether a nuclear family is bad for its members using differences between the Functionalist perspectives of the family against the contrasting view of the Marxist and Feminist approach. I will outline the main approaches from all three and draw a conclusion.
Sexual – The family legitimises sex for the adult members. This closed unit allows the male to fulfil his natural function and alleviates the need to find a mate. He has one at the core of his family.
Reproductive – This allows the adults to propagate the species in a safe and stable environment. Once reproduction has been achieved the family legitimises the individual by giving it a family name and label with which it may enter society
Economic – The family provides the workers for society to function. It provides the environment in which its members spend their wages and so maintain a functioning economy.
Educational – In order for a society to maintain balance and function the family educates its members to accept the norms and values of society through primary and secondary socialisation. The adults begin primary socialisation in the family before sending the children to school and nursery where they enter the secondary stage.
Emile Durkheim was the founding father of the functionalist perspectives but he was joined by other sociologists who added to his founding idea. Talcott Parsons was one such individual who expanding on Durkheim's theories by arguing that the family loses some of its functions to society by evolving into more complex units. It still however kept the fundamental distinction of being natural, whilst maintaining its position in a consensual society of values. Further more Parsons argued that this evolutionary process created a refuge from the rigours of a fast moving modern society. It allowed the members to return to the bosom of the family...
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