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

Families are responsible for keeping each other in check by punishing bad behaviour and reinforcing good behaviour.
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The Argument

As is often noted by behaviourist psychologists, families have a profound power over the behaviour and development of children. D. Russell Crane notes that parents are "empowered with the responsibility, authority and duty to teach children positive and prosocial behaviour."[1] Outside of childhood, the difference between a group of close friends and a found family is that the latter can control aspects of one's life, giving advice which is informed by a long standing understanding. While close friends can offer support and empathy, only a family member can have a meaningful level of control over the decisions someone makes.

Counter arguments

The extent to which a family exerts authority over its members is dependent on the type of family. Some research has suggested that single-parent and stepfamilies have more equalitarian parent-child authority roles,[2] meaning they control the children less, but these families should not be excluded from the definition of family. Moreover, some people are very resistant to direct control from others but still have mutual support with family members. Therefore, family should be about support rather than control.


Rejecting the premises




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This page was last edited on Monday, 19 Oct 2020 at 06:07 UTC

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