Chapter 15 Notes
ProfessorMalcolm Mac Kinnon
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Chapter 15: Family
Nuclear Family: consists of a cohabiting man and woman who maintain a socially approved
sexual relationship and have at least one child.
Traditional Nuclear Family: is a nuclear family in which the husband works outside the home
for money and the wife works without pay in home.
Polygamy: expands the nuclear family “horizontally” by adding one ore more puses (usually
women) to the household.
Extended Family: expands the nuclear family “vertically” by adding another generation –one or
more of the spouses’ parents –to the household.
Marriage: is a socially approved, presumably long term sexual and economic union between a
man and a woman. It involves reciprocal rights and obligations between spouses and between
parents and children.
Five Main Functions of Marriage and the Nuclear Family:
1) Sexual Regulation: Murdock says that by using marriage as a means to provide a
legitimate forum for expressing the intense human need for sexual activity makes social
order possible. Murdock concludes that sex is not the primary reason for marriage.
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2) Economic Cooperation : Murdock’s answer to why people marry is: “By virtue of
their primary sex difference, a man and a woman make an exceptionally efficient
cooperating unit” Murdock continues that women gather and men hunt and that:
“Marriage exists only when the economic and the sexual are united in one relationship,
and this combination occurs only in marriage”
3) Reproduction: According to Murdock, children are an investment in the future. Big
economic incentive to have children; as they get older they can contribute more
economically to the family.
4) Socialization: the investment of children can only be realized if adults rear the young
to maturity. Through socializing the children by teaching them language, values, beliefs,
skills, religion, and much else, Parsons saw socialization as being regarded as the “basic
and irreducible” function of the family.
5) Emotional Support: Parsons noted that the nuclear family universally gives its
members love, affection, and companionship. Parsons stressed that in the nuclear family,
it is mainly the mother who is responsible for ensuring the family’s emotional well-being.
According to Parsons, the mother develops the primary “expressive” role because she is
the one who bears children and nurses them. It falls on the husband to take on a more
“instrumental” role of earning a living outside the family (according to Parsons).
Foraging Societies: nomadic groups of 100 or fewer people. Gender division of labour exists
among foragers. Although most men hunt and women gather/tend children, it is common in
foraging societies for men to gather and tend to children while women hunt as well. The gender
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