Significance of Nuclear Families in Modern Society

Pages: 4 (1085 words) Published: November 30, 2014
(b) Assess the view that the nuclear family is the ideal family type for modern industrial societies. [25]
The family is among the most important and popular institutions in the world. A nuclear family can be traditionally defined as a social unit consisting of the husband, the wife and their children living in a comfortable home of their own.

According to the functionalist Murdock, the family is a universal institution with four basic universal functions which are sexual, reproductive, economic and educational. The sexual function refers to the exclusive sexual access of the husband and wife to one another. In most societies, there are rules limiting or even forbidding sexual activity outside marriage. Reproductive function is when the couple in a family decides to have children. The economic function, according to Murdock is the division of labor within the family. For example, the husbands in hunting societies kill game animals while the wives make clothing from the animals’ skins. The family is also the primary socialization agent in young children. Without the family, the children are ignorant of basic social norms such as eating with cutlery, self-hygiene and dressing themselves, thus become feral children.

Functionalist Talcott Parsons supported the functional relationship between nuclear families and the contemporary society. He argued that the isolated nuclear family is the most typical in the modern industrial society. The first characteristic of the nuclear family is that it is geographically mobile. A modern industrial society with a specialized labor of division demands considerable geographical mobility from its labor force. Individuals with specialized skills are required more often than not to travel to different parts of the world whose skills are sought after. The nuclear family is by far the most suited form of family as it is not tied down by binding obligations to a wide range of kin, that is, the extended family.

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