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What is the sociological definition of a family? Show more Show less

The concept of “family” has evolved in recent decades. The intolerant view of a nuclear family, where a man and woman in wedlock have children and the male provides while the female undertakes child care responsibilities, no longer applies to many modern family units. So, what is a family?

"Families are defined by what they do" Show more Show less

Functionalists believe families are defined by what they do, rather than what they "are".
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Families preserve a state of equilibrium

Families are by design forces that preserve the status quo.
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The family exists as a sub-system in the much larger societal system.

The Argument

To ensure survival, the family sub-system maintains stability by adapting to much larger changes in society in such a way as to maintain the status quo. [1] This preservation of the status quo is an inherent part of the family construct. Conflict theorists argue that because inheritance is a core function of the family, the family construct is a stabilizing force that by nature pushes against reform and reinforces the status quo.

Counter arguments



[P1] Inheritance is a sociological function of a family unit. [P2] Inheritance allows parents to pass their material wealth to other members of the family. [P3] This increases the likelihood that the family will retain its social and material standing in society. [P4] Therefore, the family is a force that preserves the status quo.

Rejecting the premises


Further Reading



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This page was last edited on Monday, 29 Jun 2020 at 00:05 UTC