• Created by: Keira01
  • Created on: 07-06-23 19:35



murdock (1949) - four essential functions of the nuclear family 

1) stable satisfaction of the sex drive - monogamous heterosexual relationships prevented jelousy and everyone's sexual needs could be satisfied as a sexual-free-for-all would cause havoc and conflict 

2) repoduction of the next generation - biological reproduction allows new children to be born so that life can continue 

3) socialisation of the young - the family are a child's first experience of the world and so they learn the norms and values of society from them (primary socialisation)

4) meeting members economic needs - the family is an economic unit and it is cheaper for parents to live together with children to provide things such as food and shelter.  


- the nuclear family isnt universal - the nayar people of india practice polyandry where women have up to 12 husbands at any one given time and there is no jelousy and they own private property, not their husbands 

- the extended family, especially grandparents, play a critical role in performing many of the four functions 

- in today's society, families no longer have to meet economic needs due to support available from the welfare state

parsons (1955) - functional fit theory 

the nuclear family fits the more complex industrial society better, however performs reduced functions. 

- before the industrial era, over 80% of people were involved in agriculture, there was no welfare state and the family were etirely dependent on each other and between them were responsible for education, food, healthcare and work which required a lot of members and so the extended family was a better fit for society 

- in industrail society, less than 1% of people were involved in agriculture. factories and offices require a mobile workforce and the extended family broke up into the nuclear family as it is hard for everyone to move to where there is work available. there was less need for an extended family as some functions that it would have originally performed were taken care of by the state. 


- laslett points out that church records show only 10% of households contained extended kin before the industrial revolution thus suggesting that the nuclear family emerged prior to the shift


No comments have yet been made