Family Key Studies


Rapoport's: Family Diversity

1. Organisational diversity: families vary in their structures, the ways they organise their domestic division of labour and their social networks like links to extended family. Family structures that illustrate this sort of diversity include conventional nuclear families, one-parent, reconstituted and dual worker families.

2. Cultural diversity: families differ in their cultural values and beliefs. These different beliefs and values can affect people's life styles and ideas about gender roles, child-rearing, education and paid work.

3. Social class diversity: a families social class position affects the resources available to its members, role relationships between partners, and childbearing practices such as how parents discipline their children.

4. Life-course diversity: the stage in the family life-cycle that a particular family has reached. Newlyweds without children, families with young children and retired couples are all in different stages of the life cycle.

5. Cohort diversity: the particular period time in which a family passes through different stages of the family life-cycle. For example, over time divorce has lost its social stigma.

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Murdock (1949)

Murdock identified 4 essential functions of the nuclear family:

1. The sexual function: the nuclear family regulates a married couple's sexual behaviour and helps to maintain their relationship.

2. The reproductive function: the nuclear family produces the next generation of society's members, helping society survive over time.

3. The economic function: society needs a way of providing people with financial support. Economic cooperation is based on a division of labour between the husband and wife. 

4. The educational function: society needs to ensure that new members learn its culture. This takes place during socialisation within the nuclear family.


- Outdated, unrealistic and sexist

- Nuclear family serves the interests of capitalism and is the main source of female oppression - imprisoning women in their own homes.

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