Nuclear Family Is a Universal Institution
The nuclear family is found world wide. The idea of a nuclear family is primarily a functionalist perspective. It is fundamentally defined as a family unit consisting of a married couple and their offspring. The initiative was first developed by George Peter Murdock (Functionalist) and since then it has been a debatable issue between all sociologists. Murdock studied 250 institutions ranging from hunting and gathering societies to large scale industrial societies.
He stated the following: “A social group characterized by common residence economic co-operation and reproduction includes adults of both sexual at least 2 of whom maintain socially approved sexual relationship cohabitating adults.” The nuclear family is good for society; it provides a firm set of values and norms, which are essentially important for any family to socialize; which is the main function of the family. Significantly they argue that the nuclear family lays a set of rules, for one to follow and therefore enables one to socialize in a better way.
Murdock suggests the nuclear family is found in every society (Universal Family). It carries out 4 functions which are necessary in every society. These are the following: Sexual Function which is the environment for sexual desires, Reproduction Function which is the stability and reproduction of children, Socialization where children learn norms and values and finally Economic Function which provides food and shelter for family. The four functions are not seen to be carried out in the sense that the couple are together, as the parent's rarely live together; the sexual and reproduction functions are clearly fulfilled, it can be argued that the economic and socialization functions are not carried out because the parents do not do these things together, the father is responsible for the economic persuasion, but the mother is responsible for the main upbringing of the baby. Due to this, they are not considered a family in the traditional sense of Murdock's definition. In conclusion, a “universal family” that is the same all around the world in different societies does not exist.
From all this we can evaluate that the nuclear family however is not the only form of arrangement that carries out these functions. There are exceptions that suggest the nuclear family is not universal. As Anthony Giddens defined family; A social unit made up of people who support each other in one or several ways e.g. socially, economically and physiologically. Or whose members identify with each other as a supportive unit.