Families & Households: The family, social structure and social change

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Defining 'the family'

Families mean dependants such as children who need to fed & protected. 

Murdock (1949): defines family as; 'a social group characterized by common residence, economic co-operation & reproduction. It includes 2 adults of both sexes and atleast 2 of them must maintain a socially accepted sexual relationship & have 1+ dependant children (own/adopted).

Murdocks view is of the nuclear family. 

What is the nuclear family?

Is a family group consisting of 2 generations, such as parents and children, living in the same household. 

It is taken for granted that women who want children must be primarily responsible for the nurturing and childcare. Men get more involved in the childcare & housework now. 

What is nurturing?

Caring for and looking after others. 

The influence of the traditional vew of the family

Some people still think that homosexuals should not have the same fertility or parenting rights as hetrosexuals are still very influencial today. 

Functionalism, the social structure and the family

Functionalists are interested in how the family functions for the greater good of society & how it contributes to the maintancence of social order.

They are interested in how the family contributes to the economy and how they contribute to social solidarity.

They are also interested in how the family, as part of the social structure shapes & benefits its family members. 

What is Social Solidarity?

The feeling of belonging. 

Functionalism and the evolution of the family

Parsons (1965: argues that the economic systems of pre-industrial societies were based on kinship networks.

Land and other resources were ownded or rented by relatives which extended beyond the nuclear family.

It was common to live and work with cousins.

Pre extended family was responsible for the production of food, shelter & clothing, they would trade with other families for things that they could not produce themselves.

Home and work were the same thing…


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