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< Back to question 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 provide support

Families provide emotional and/or financial support.
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Families have a duty to nurture and protect their members through the challenges of life. Families must provide support—both financially and emotionally—in order to fulfill this duty.[1]

The Argument

The heart of familial relationships stems from the support system a family develops. Without a support system engendering love, companionship, and stability, a family will struggle to build proper familial bonds. As a result, families are defined by their role in building the support system integral to a healthy family. [1] Families provide financial support for stability and in times of need. Parents have a duty to provide the basic living necessities for their children while they are too young to do so themselves. Similarly, children have a duty to reciprocate the same care for their parents when they are too old to provide for themselves. Family members should also help financially struggling members in the extended family, so long as they don’t jeopardize their own stability. The acts of providing for a family member and being dependent on one are basic building blocks for the support system integral to the definition of a family. [2] Families provide emotional support. A child’s family is the most formative influence on their moral and psychological development. Therefore, parents and older family members should provide proper emotional support to better a child’s future character. Likewise, a child should reciprocate the same psychological support as their parents age. The emotional and psychological support that family members share exemplifies the support system that defines a family. [3]

Counter arguments

Others may contend that some families do not support each other. Family members can have divisive opinions on various issues from lifestyles, interests, political opinions, and attitudes. This division can lead to the cessation of financial, emotional, or general support between family members. In this instance, unsupportive blood-related family members are still considered a family by many societies and governments, including the United States. [4]


Rejecting the premises



This page was last edited on Sunday, 13 Sep 2020 at 19:18 UTC

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