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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?

Family is the setting for socializing children Show more Show less

Family is the name we give to the setting in which we socialize children.
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Human infants are born with sensory capabilities, not innate reflexes

Humans are born without innate reflexes, indicating that parental guidance is far more important in human development than in the development and evolution of other species.
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Context

Unlike many animals in the animal kingdom, human infants are born with almost no innate reflexes.

The Argument

Without any instinctual reflexes, human infants rely on their parents to teach them how to do many of the basic tasks required for survival. Therefore, rather than being born with innate reflexes, humans are born with a wealth of sensory capabilities. This would suggest that the biological role of the family is to socialize children and that a child’s survival has depended more on its ability to learn from those around them, than the innate abilities they were born with.

Counter arguments

This argument confuses biological development with sociological constructs. Human infants' capacity for learning and lack of innate reflexes indicates that guidance and education are important in our cognitive and behavioural development, but it does not mean that our parents have to provide that education, or even that the family unit has to. The expression "it takes a village to raise a child" reflects the reality that often it is not the family unit that provides their education and guidance, but their community.

Premises

[P1] Humans are born with sensory capabilities but not innate reflexes. [P2] This means human infants are exceptional learners. [P3] This indicates that parental guidance plays a heightened role in human development. [P4] Therefore, socializing and educating children is a core function of a family.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P3] This guidance does not have to come from parents or even from within a "family".

References


    This page was last edited on Sunday, 28 Jun 2020 at 22:09 UTC

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