Sociology of the family

Topics: Family, Marriage, Sociology Pages: 5 (1800 words) Published: February 10, 2014
Sociology of the family.
In this essay the sociology of the family will be discussed. In 1949 George Peter Murdock who was a functionalist studies a social structure. While looking at range of societies, almost 250 of them, ranging from hunting family’s to families of a larger scale. He believed that there was some form of family that appeared in every society and with the evidence that he gathered concluded that the family is universal. Murdock defined the family as follows, the family is a social group characterized by common residence, economic cooperation and reproduction. It includes adults of both sexes, at least two of whom maintain a socially approved sexual relationship, and one or more children, own or adopted, of the sexually cohabiting adults. Murdock, G (1949). This view on the family was viewed as the ideal family for many of years. The structure of the family will vary depending on the society, the most common family is the smaller family known as the nuclear family which consists of a husband and wife and their immature offspring. This is the type of family Murdock explained in his theory. Murdock, G (1949) argued that the family performs 4 basic functions in all societies, which he termed the sexual, reproductive, economic and educational. Which is in some way is true because without the sexual and reproductive functions there would be no more people in society although a radical feminist would argue that she could financially look after herself but what a radical feminist could not do is the reproduce spouse. Throughout this section of the essay the structural and functional changes that have occurred during the last century will be analysed. A theme that has a major effect on sociological studies of the family is the relationship between the structure of the family and the related process of industrialisation and modernisation. For example the type of family that would be common in pre-industrialisation would be the extended family, which consists of the male head, a wife and their children, the ageing parents who might have passed on the house to the male head and any unmarried brothers or sisters. This type of family was very common pre industrialisation. They relied on the family working well together by growing their own foods, economic and social roles would have been welded together and the status of the family would be ascribed by family membership. A hearty meal would be provided for the males who would be out working all of the time. This pre-industrialisation family type was often found in peasant societies. This type of family in contrast to a family type after the industrialisation is very different. One type of family that was very common was the nuclear family, which consisted of two parents and children living in the same residents. The male would be the breadwinner and the female would be a housewife, doing house chores like cooking and cleaning. Murdock (1949) claimed “that nuclear family is so useful to society that it was inevitable and universal” so he thought that this nuclear family consisted throughout societies everywhere. Common families now, are mostly consumer families. Talcott parsons argued that the extended family became a nuclear family to functionally fit the needs of modern society although David Cheal (1991) attacked parson’s views strongly, he argues “Parsons’ generalisations about the family life were often seriously parochial, reflecting narrow experiences of gender, class, race and nationality…” Cheal believed that parson ignored contradictions within modernity. For example, increased employment of women in paid jobs did not lead to men sharing domestic roles like house chores and cooking. In the last century there have been many changes in the roles and relationships of the family. Up until the 1970’s roles and responsibilities were not discussed, women did not complain if they felt they were doing too much domestic labour and they normally lived private lives...
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