The Nuclear Family - man and woman living together with their legal children ("siblings"). Much research has shown that the nuclear family is more able to provide the emotional support that people need, and is able to help the children to find occupations in an industrial society.
The term nuclear family developed in the western world to distinguish the family group consisting of parents, most commonly a father and mother, and their children, from what is known as an extended family. Nuclear families can be any size, as long as the family can support itself and there are only parents and children (or the family is an extended family.) According to Merriam-Webster the term dates back to 1947 and is therefore relatively new, although nuclear family structures themselves date back thousands of years. The term "nuclear" was used because of its original Latin meaning, "kernel" or "nut". Today roughly one quarter of households in the United States, for example, are described as consisting of nuclear families, making them the third most common household arrangement in that nation.
The term nuclear family can be defined simply as a wife/mother, a husband/father, and their children. However, this straightforward structural definition is surrounded by a cloud of ambiguity and controversy. Most of the debates have centred around three questions. First, is the nuclear family universal—found in every known human society? Second, is the nuclear group the essential form of family—the only one that can carry out the vital functions of the family (especially, rearing the next generation) or can other family patterns (e.g., single mothers, single fathers, two women, or two men) be considered workable units for fulfilling these functions? The third issue concerns the link between the nuclear family household and industrial society. In the old days, before work moved outside the home to factories and offices, did parents and children live together under one roof with grandparents and other relatives? Did the nuclear family break away from this extended family system as a result of industrialization?
The debate over the universality and necessity of the nuclear family began in the early twentieth century. Pioneer anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski (1913) stated that the nuclear family had to be universal because it filled a basic biological need—caring for and protecting infants and young children. No culture could survive, he asserted, unless the birth of children was linked to both mother and father in legally based parenthood. Anthropologist George P. Murdock (1949) elaborated on the idea that the nuclear family is both universal and essential: "Whether as the sole prevailing form of the family . . . or as the basic unit from which more complex families form, [the nuclear family] exists as a distinct and strongly functional group in every known society" (p. 2).
The debate about the nuclear family and industrialism centred around the writings of one of the leading sociologists of the post-World War II era, Talcott Parsons (1955). The nuclear unit, he argued, fits the needs of industrial society. Independent of the kin network, the "isolated" nuclear family is free to move as the economy demands. Further, the intimate nuclear family can specialize in serving the emotional needs of adults and children in a competitive and impersonal world.
In later years, the assumptions about the family held by Malinowski, Murdock, and Parsons have been challenged by family sociologists as well as by anthropologists, historians, feminist scholars, and others. Research in these fields has emphasized the diversity of family not only across cultures and eras but also within any culture or historical period.
I. Define the words:siblings, commonly, relatively, arrangement, ambiguity, controversy, essential, generation, workable, to assert, to elaborate, prevailing, kin, network, to demand, assumption, to challenge,
to emphasize, diversity, assumption.
II. Translate the following word combinations into Ukrainian:
1)to bemore able to provide the emotional support that people need;
2)dates back to;
3)to be relatively new;
4)straightforward structural definition;
5)to be surrounded by a cloud of ambiguity and controversy;
7)the essential form of family;
8)to carry out the vital functions of the family;
9)to break away from;
10)to live together under one roof;
11)tofill a basic biological need;
12)to be both universal and essential;
13)the sole prevailing form of the family;
14)to emphasize the diversity of family;
15)to specialize in serving the emotional needs of..
III. Complete the following sentences:
ü … developed in the western world to distinguish the family group consisting of parents, most commonly a father and mother, and their children;
ü The term nuclear family can be defined simply as…
ü this straightforward structural definition is surrounded by…
ü The debate over the universality and necessity of the nuclear family…
ü … elaborated on the idea that the nuclear family is both universal and essential;
ü Independent of the kin network, the "isolated" nuclear family is free…
ü Research in these fields has emphasized the diversity of family not only…