Assess the View That the Traditional Nuclear Family Is No Longer a Necessary and Universal Institution

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“Assess the view that the traditional nuclear family is no longer a necessary and universal institution” (24 marks) The nuclear family is a family unit that consists of a mother, father and their children, who all live together. It is argued by feminists and post modernists that the nuclear family is no longer necessary because our society is evolving but some sociologists, like Murdock and Charles Murray, argue that the nuclear family is still of importance today. The feminist perspective focuses on the idea that the family is patriarchal and that it is oppressing and exploiting woman who are dominated by men. Radical Feminists are in favour of the rising divorce rates because it means woman do not have to rely on men in the family. Feminists criticise Willmott and Young who suggested that we are currently in ‘The symmetrical family stage’ where chores are shared equally between the women and men. Feminists argue we are not in this stage as women still do the majority of housework. This is backed up by Anne Oakley’s finding that only 15% of men have a high level of participation in housework. Radical feminists argue that the patriarchal system needs to be overturned and to do this, women must learn to live independently. Delphy and Leonard (1992) argued that the inequalities between partners in the home are a result of the fact that the head of the household is almost always male. This implies that men have more decision-making power, and are able to consume more of what the family earns, even if they are unemployed and it is the woman who is earning the money. They state that women, on the other hand, are expected to carry out domestic work without being paid. Marxist Feminists believe that the woman are a ‘reserve army’ of cheap labour in the family and they think that the family should be abolished along with the capitalist society that we live in.
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