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Explain And Assess Murdock's Definition Of The Family

758 words - 4 pages

Explain and Assess Murdock's Definition of the Family

George Peter Murdock was a researcher in the 1940s and 1950s in the USA and defined the family as characterised by six main factors; common residence (living in the same home), economic cooperation (sharing money or helping one another with work or children etc.), reproduction, at least two adults of the opposite sex maintaining a socially approved sexual relationship and one or more biological or adopted children of the cohabiting adults. Murdock advanced the thesis in Social Structure that the family was a universal social institution found in all societies. His claim was based on his study of two hundred and fifty societies of all ...view middle of the document...

Nevertheless modern sociologists of today's society argue that his definition is too narrow and traditional, not including families that are far more common and accepted now, for example his definition does not include single parent families, same sex families, families without children and couples that don't live together, which are increasingly occurring and viewed as normal. Along with his definition excluding families that are not of common residence, reproducing or adults of opposite sex, he fails to recognize people who cannot be economically cooperative such as families with disabled or dependent people or individuals that are living in poverty. According to his definition, if there is a mum and a dad living on the street with children because they cannot be economically cooperative they are not a family.
His definition could suggest that he did not accept families that did not "live up to" his expectations. This could imply a biased point of view, despite the fact that he researched all around the country in hundreds of societies which supports that he is not culturally biased, his definition could still hint at his own personal views interfering with his theory. That perhaps, with his own reasons, he did not want these...

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