“Family” is a concept which is used to call a society’s institution. The idea of its meaning has changed throughout many years but there are mainly two types of family: nuclear and extended. Nuclear families basically include a mother, a father and their children (could be either biological or adopted) while extended families consist of a nuclear family and relatives: aunts, uncles, grandparents or grandchildren… etc.
In theory, families, especially nuclear family, are considered to be a “corner stone” when building up the society so that functionalists has argued that society needs nuclear families. According to functionalists, family has many functions such as education, economic, emotional support, nurture…etc. To demonstrate this view point, it is useful to consider the educational part of families as it is considered to be the agent of primary socialization.
For instance, when being brought up, you get used to sanctions and that is how family helps us know norms, values and how to interact with other people… The second thing to note is emotional support because this is the place which you will come back from school or even a long holiday. Then, you can share things that has happened for the whole day long so as to make you feel better and relief. Every function has its own value, even security and guidance, which performs together in order to help society run in harmony.
In addition, the survey of George Murdock (1949) which conducted of 250 societies has showed different types of function: universal and personal. According to Murdock, the family’s universal functions are sexual, economic, education and reproductive. Therefore, family is in charge of making and bringing up new generations and pass the norms, values so as to help them learn their roles. Furthermore, family also has economic function as it is believed to be an important unit of consumption (Fletcher 1966).
For example, in advertising, they use a lot of nuclear family images because this type is a typical one in many countries, including the Britain. Other thing to note is personal functions of the family which are said to be irreducible. Family, base on Murdock’s study, is where you show your feelings such as love, hate or happiness… Not only is family a rewarding experience but it also gives you a sense of belonging and selfworth. In conclusion, although there are lots of ideas about “family”, functionalists still argue that it is a vital “organ” in maintain the “body” (society) base on its functions.