Families and Households

Waqas Arshad

Murdoch believes that the best family type is the nuclear family, which is ideal for completing the 4 functions the family has, the four functions according to Murdoch are, sexual function, Economic function, Reproductive function and Socialisation function.
The Sexual function is allowing the sex drive to be satisfied with one partner therefore preventing conflict. The Economic function is providing food and shelter for family members. The Reproductive function is producing the next generation. Finally the Socialisation function is teaching children the norms and values of society.
Murdoch’s work shows how the nuclear families functions benefit both the individuals and society.
However it is contradicted as Marxists argue it only benefits the ruling class and feminists argue it only benefits men.
One criticism is that Murdoch ignores the fact that families don’t always perform these functions e.g. cases of child abuse.
Another criticism is that Murdoch fails to consider that other families other than nuclear families can perform these functions just as efficiently for example, step families.
Parsons argues that there is a functional fit between family and society; society shapes family. Parsons claims that in pre-industrial society the main family type is extended family, but in an industrial society the main family type is nuclear family.
In industrial it is important for families to be geographically mobile (able to move around) and socially mobile (able to move around in social class system) to find work and better themselves, this is easier for nuclear families than extended families as there is less people to move around, therefore less conflict.
Status in families is usually ascribed. Achieved status is possible in socially mobile societies. But sometimes a son can have a higher achieved status than his farther, so the son forms his own nuclear family.
Parsons believes as society changes and develops the family has lost some of its functions...