Examine different conceptions of the desirability of the Nuclear Family.
A nuclear family can be defined as parents and children living together in a home separate to the rest of their extended family. Functionalists believe that the nuclear family is the only acceptable family structure as it provides and supplies the needs of every member of the family. Radical Feminists have an entirely different view, believing that the nuclear family doesn’t benefit anyone, except the men of society.
Functionalists have a very clear view on the nuclear family. They believe that society actually benefits from the nuclear family because of what they provide. Functionalists feel that that the nuclear family help to educate children whilst stabilising adult personalities, which in turn benefits society greatly. This in turn is helping to train children who will become the workers of the next generation. Murdock, who is a functionalist, feels that nuclear families are an excellent role model for children; providing them with both a guide to follow their life by and values to believe in,.
We need to consider, however, if the values that he is setting are actually benefiting modern people. It is a well known that functionalists tend to generalise the “facts,” which they are trying to talk about. Murdock is trying to avoid real life situations, which arise quite frequently within families. He is practically ignoring the downsides of family relationships that can be seen through things like domestic violence.
However, Radical Feminists feel that the nuclear family is made to serve only the interests of men. This is because radical feminists believe that out society is very much a male dominated society (or Patriarchy), believing that women are exploited. Whilst the nuclear family carries on with the segregation of roles, these women feel that men are holding them back; so they are unable to become more independent. Radical Feminists argue that during industrialisation their job was simply named as “wife-mother” and they were not even given the chance to work. They also argue that nuclear families do not serve the needs of the whole society.
So, we can see that both views on the nuclear family are very different. Functionalists believe that nuclear families benefit society and Radical Feminists believe that the nuclear family exploits the women in society. Both views have good points as the nuclear family could provide a stable home for a child and its parents. However, we have to consider that these opposing opinions are, in fact, both correct but perhaps need to be less one sided in their argument. To conclude, we feel that with a mixture of both views would show that the nuclear family could be desirable with adaptation.