Sociology key definition and defined topic revision

  1. Define the Term "Nuclear family"
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    A nuclear family describes any family consisting of two adults, male and female and their dependent children, biological or adopted. According to many sociologist (especially functionalists) like G.P. Murdock, the nuclear family is the basic universally accepted family frame .
  2. Define the term "Extended family
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    The composition of people living together, related or unrelated.The extended family adds on, or extends the basic nuclear family. Extended families can be vertical, (e.g. grandparents, parents and children), or horizontal, (e.g. brothers moving in with children
  3. Functionalists view or aspect towards the family
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    • Functionalist see society as being made up of several segments which contribute to the wellbeing and maintenance of the society as a whole.
    • In order for society to survive, there needs to be a "consensus" (agreement) between norms and values. This is known as consesus theories.
    • Functionalist such as G.P. Murdock see society as an instiution that performs tasks, has functions and purposes that benefit the family and society itself.

    • These functions are:
    • Sexual - Limiting sex within the family can stabilise the social system. It also prevents things such as adultry and homosexuality
    • Economic - Family is a unit of production (family business) and a unit of consumption - (Provides food and shelter for family)
    • Reproduction - Faimly produces future generation workers, and without reproduction, society would cease to exist
    • Educational - The family is the first source of primary socialisation. This teaches kids about the basic norms and values as they grow, as they learn the socially acceptable behaviour.

    Talcott Parsons

    According to Parsons, the family has become increaisngly specialised. Prior to the industrial revolution, the family had certain taks to perform such as caring for the elderly and educating children. This has now been over-taken by governmental organisations such as schools and elderly homes.

    • Parsons claims the family retains two functions; primary socalisation and stabilisation of adult personalities.
    • Primary socialisation - every person needs to learn the shared values, without that; theres no consensus and without that, theres no social life.
    • Stabilisation of adult personalities - 1) gives an opportunity for partners to share and relieve emotional stress. 2) Gives adults the chance to indulge in childish behaviour, i.e. playing to childrens.

    • Criticism of Functionalism
    • 1) Functionalist view the family as living in harmony and performing both useful and essential functions for both the members and society, this does not reflect the realities of our culture.
    • 2)Functionalist tend to ignore the 'dark side' of family life.
    • * conflict between husband and wife
    • * male dominance
    • *abuse
    • 3) Parsons view of the family has been criticised as sexist since he sees the wife/mother as having the main responsibility for warmth and emotional support.
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Sociology key definition and defined topic revision