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Talcott Parsons stated that the nuclear family was the ideal family structure

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Talcott Parsons stated that the nuclear family was the ideal family structure. He said that there were to irreducible functions of the family. These are the primary socialisation of the family and adult stabilisation. The primary socialisation of the children is where children learn to accept the values and norms of society and gender roles. Gender roles are taught to the daughter by the mother who shows an expressive role suited to the emotional and caring aspect of the family. The father teaches the sons discipline and to become a breadwinner this is known as the instrumental role. The stabilisation of the adult is where the family gives adults the emotional support necessary to cope with stresses of everyday life.

However, Functionalists views are seen to be very positive, and do not reflect real life.  For example, child abuse, rising divorce rates and domestic violence are not taken into consideration.  The validity of other family structures, or the diversity of the family is not considered. functionalists tend to be middle-class based and therefore fails to recognise working-class women who may not be able to rely on their husbands economic support.  This lead to the diversity of traditional roles, as the women may have to go out and work to help her family, even though it is assumed, that the male is the sole breadwinner. It is also not taken into consideration by Functionalists the fact that lone-parent families, same sex parents foster care and children’s homes are not only present, but on the increase in modern day society.

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Murdock, a functionalist suggests that the nuclear family is an important social institution, playing vital functions in maintaining society.  He believes it to be a universal institution, although there are established arrangements for the bringing up and socialisation of children in most societies in the world, all of which do not rest on the family or biological parents.  Therefore, from a functionalist viewpoint, it could be argued that the nuclear family is not the sole institution and as such, does not constitute an ideal living arrangement for individuals or society, as there are many existing families that do not fit under the title of a nuclear family.’Murdock’s study is very outdated and contrasts with today’s structure in society because there are so many varied family types and it doesn’t cater towards diversity so no longer has relevant notions of family.

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