Sociology: Why a Nuclear Family Is No Longer the 'Norm'


Traditionally, a nuclear family would be the ideal family and would consist of a married couple and two children who are the couple’s biological offspring; the husband is the breadwinner and the wife is primarily concerned with housework and childcare. This is an efficient family as it’s geographically mobile and most people will experience this during their life. Murdock said that a nuclear family is a ‘universal social grouping’ which is found in all societies, but Item 2B suggests that families have become more diverse.

A nuclear family isn’t necessarily considered the norm anymore because a number of changes have taken place throughout the years. An example of this would be an increase in same-sex couples because it has become more socially acceptable (legalised in the UK in 1967), secularisation has expanded religious views, and reproductive technologies like IVF and surrogacy allow gay couples to have children.

Single-parent families have become more popular as well. This is due to divorce, greater social acceptance and secularisation, the welfare state and the fact women don’t have to rely on a man to support them, and an increase in the changing attitudes towards marriage.

Some people have decided to have children later in their lives or not have any at all. This is because they have decided to go travelling or continue education and go to university so they have no time to start a family. Another possible reason this is because of financial difficulties and wouldn’t be able to juggle all the responsibilities.

The government and social policies have had an effect on the family structure, allowing divorces and civil partnerships to develop. Not everyone is as acceptable as we think and a few examples of these are The New Right perspective and the Dennis and Erdos theory. The New Right is convinced that the only family that is sufficient for society is the nuclear family. Dennis and Erdos support this theory as they argued that...