Family Structure Essay
Family Structure Essay

Family Structure Essay

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  • Pages: 4 (983 words)
  • Published: January 20, 2022
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A family is a social group that is characterized by reproduction, common residence, and economic cooperation. It includes adults of different sexes of whom they maintain a socially approved sexual relationship, and one or more children (Corbett p. 3). The family comprises of various structure that includes: nuclear families, extended families, single parent families and reconstituted families. The nuclear family also known as the basic unit of a family is the type that consist two adults, a woman, and a man and their children.

The extended family is one that extends beyond nuclear family includes aunts, grandparents, unless and other relatives who live in one household. Single parent families are one that involves a single parent with the dependent children (Rosser and Harris p. 27). It is caused by either death of a spouse, separation or divorce.

Lastly, reconstituted family one that is caused


by high rates of cohabitation where the stepfathers and mothers head the family.

Theoretical Perspective on the Family

Theories have been used as means of creating explanations concerning the structure and patterns of behavior in the family institution. Functionalist theorists focused their explanations on the functions of the family for its members and the society. It checks on how the family helps in maintaining stability and order within the society, and the importance of the family to its members.

According to George Murdock p. 76, the family performs four basic functions for the society and individual members. They include reproductive function, educational functions, sexual functions and economic functions. The economic unit comprises the division of labor as the rewarding for the spouses and strengthens the bond between them.

According to another theorist, Talcott Parson’s, claims

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that society changes, the type of the family that fits the society and the functions it performs changes. He claims that since two hundred years ago, the society have managed to change from pre-industrial to industrial and family type had changed from extended to nuclear family (White, James, and Klein p. 68). The approach of functionalism looks the society through macro level orientation as it focuses broadly on social structures that shape the whole society.

It identifies a society regarding the function of its essential elements that include the traditions, norms, customs, and institutions.

Functions of a Family

Family being the most fundamental and universal social institution performs various functions in human society. Its functions have been classified into different types by different sociologists. They comprise affection, recreation functions, religious functions, economic functions, protective functions and educational functions. In affection, involves stable satisfaction of partner’s sexual needs. It is the primary duty of a family to satisfy the urge of its partner in a stable and desirable way.

In recreation function, the family performs many recreational activities for the members through entertaining them in different ways like organizing festivals. In the modern days, modern clubs have replaced many recreational functions of the family (Corbett p. 53). Families are the members of all the religious activities within the family.

Family members offer prayers together and observe various religious practices together. All members of a family believe in a particular religion. Children can learn different religious values from their parents. In educational function, mothers act as the best and first teacher of a child (Rosser, Colin, and Harris p. 87).

It is within the family that a child learns the informal

education like obedience, discipline, and good manners. A family is an important economic unit. The family fulfills the economic needs of its members like food, housing, and clothing. In the past, a family was both consumption and a production unit.

Social Changes Within the Family

In recent years, family structures have changed significantly. There are an increased divorce rates and single parents as mentioned by Volo, James and Dorothy (p.

156). In our society today, family structures have changed due to the secularization of the society, the church not being that dominant anymore. Due to modernization and women have become dominant n the society regarding the roles and use of family planning. The concept of family has changed from being extended during the pre-industrial society that contained many relatives live in one roof and the family comprises the nuclear family that just involves a father mother and children living together. But due to the high rate of separation and divorce, a new type has come out called constituted or blended a family. The type involves two previously married individuals who cohabit together with their respective children (Rosser and Harris p.

214). From the past, women used to be discriminated regarding property rights, social welfare, and employment. In one case, women who previously worked were to give out their job when they get married. However, things have changed significantly due to demographic studies and feminism that has enabled women to have a say concerning their lives, employment opportunities and their marriage rights in the twentieth century.

The gender roles in the family system have changed dramatically. Initially, women’s role was homemaker where they were to take care of the

children, do the housework and prepare meals for the family (Rosser and Harris p. 253). Today, there is a more democratic approach to gender roles because women have now participated in the workforce that has made them earn income, gain power and status that they never had in the past.

Works Cited

  1. Corbett, Andrew. What Is a Family?: And Why It Matters : Achieving a Workable Definition. Launceston, Tas: Tasmania Family Institute, 2004. Print.
  2. Murdock, George Peter. "Social structure." (2009). EditedTop of Form
  3. Rosser, Colin, and Christopher C. Harris. The Family and Social Change: A Study of Family and Kinship in a South Wales Town. London u.a.: Routledge, 2008.


  4. Volo, James M, and Dorothy D. Volo. Family Life in 17th and 18th-Century America. Westport, Conn. u.a.: Greenwood Press, 2006. Print.
  5. White, James M, and David M. Klein.

    Family Theories. London: SAGE, 2007. Print

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