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Sociology Essay On Murdock's Definition Of Family

652 words - 3 pages

George Peter Murdock (1895 – 1985) was an American anthropologist, who in 1949 provided the following definition of a family, “the family is a social group characterized my residence, economic cooperation and reproduction. It includes adult of both sexes, at least two of whom maintains a socially approved relationship, and one or more children own or adopted, of the sexually cohabiting adult.” At that time in history his definition probably fit the majority of people that call themselves families reasonably well, except for maybe the odd exception. However in today's post industrial revolution society, his definition only fits a few specific families as the family as an institution itself has become more diverse.
The first component of Murdock’s definition is that a family shares the same household that is all members live in the same house. However this, does not take into consideration many factors such as couples who may have divorced, and are no longer living in the same house. Also in this modern industrial society, we see many people traveling abroad for work, for example petroleum engineers who work, off shore. They, most of the time don’t live with their families at home. Here we see Murdock’s definition failing to take into consideration these exceptions.
The second component of his definition, deals with economic cooperation, which according to Murdock meant, that both parents worked together, pooled their recourses and to some extent they shared domestic tasks and income. However this fails to consider, people who are unable to contribute financially to the house hold, for whatever reason, maybe they are unemployed, suffer from an illness which renders then unable to work, or maybe, the family is living in poverty and are just not able to be economically cooperative. Are these people not to be considered a family? According to Murdock, unfortunately no.
The third element which comprises Murdock’s definition is reproduction. Murdock’s sates that a family must consist of children, whether...

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