Sociological Views

Topics: Family, Sociology, Extended family Pages: 2 (902 words) Published: October 12, 2014
Assess the view that the nuclear family is the most ideal for society and its individuals (24 marks) There are a variety of sociological perspectives on whether the nuclear family is the most ideal for society and its individuals. By nuclear family, we mean a couple and their children (usually between two and three) who live in the same household. Sociologists can refer to Parson’s functional fit idea, Marx’s theory of the family serving capitalism and a range of feminist perspectives on the matter. Functionalist writers, like Parsons, would argue that the shape and size of the family would depend on society (the functional fit idea). Currently, we live in an industrial age where there is an urbanisation of society due to technological advances. As a result of this, families would have to be more socially/geographically mobile (where they would have to easily move to locations where there are employment opportunities and be able to move from one class status to another over time). Parsons argues that nuclear families would benefit more than pre-industrial extended families (families with more than one generation in the same household) as they weren’t able to easily move socially/geographically. Therefore the nuclear family would be best suited to constant changes in class, location and employment in an urbanised society – as well as being an emotional support unit for one another. However, historical data challenges functionalist ideas. Anderson and Hareven studied that both nuclear and extended families provided support and financial help for each other during adversity, for example poverty, unemployment etc. Furthermore, they were able to help find work for people in the family, making them geographically mobile. This goes against Parsons’ idea of extended families being immobile and impractical for an urbanised society. Most Marxists would argue that nuclear families serve the needs of a capitalist society. Zaretsky believed that the family (a...
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