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 moreShow less
Functionalists believe families are defined by what they do, rather than what they "are".
The family exists as a sub-system in the much larger societal system.
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. 
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.
[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.