"A family is a small social group of people related by ancestry or affection, who share common values and goals, who may live together in the same dwelling, and who may participate in the bearing and raising of children. They have a physical or emotional connection with each other that is ongoing" (Vissing, 2011) and is the foundation of all societies. They can be formed by a grouping of father-mother-children or even more complicated combination of relatives. In the primary stage of family life in the United States, everyone from every generation lived together in one house. Subsequently, the idea of traditional family evolved and a married couple with children is at present, often called the traditional family. There are many types of families; however, this paper will focus on the traditional family. It will describe how the functionalist perspective, conflict perspective, and the interactionism theory apply to the sociological institution known as a family. It will explain some of the similarities and differences between the sociological theories in regards to families and how they affect the family members.
Families play an important role in shaping individuals and through them it also shapes the whole society. But what does the term traditional family mean and who decides what constitutes a traditional family? According to Merriam-Webster (2011), the definition of a nuclear or traditional family means “a family group that consists only of father, mother, and children”.
A family might include anyone related by blood or by adoption such as: step parents, grandparents acting as parents, and even brothers and sisters sharing the same household. However, worldwide “the family is regarded as the most basic institution for all individuals because it is directly responsible for the care and protection of its members” (Vissing, 2011).
The term family was often interchanged with the term marriage and to have a family was also thought of having a significant other, plus each family member had to carry out his or her own part. This definition was thought to be the norm for many centuries and was named the traditional family.
Theories in sociology provide us with different perspectives with which to view our society, and specifically, the traditional family. Functionalism, for instance, believes in traditions. Functionalists tend to emphasize the origin of customs, and in America, a single parent family is not an origin of a custom. It is also believed in the theory that the family is a positive institution and meets the needs of an advanced industrial society for a socially mobile workforce. Functionalists highlight the ideal family type in a modern society, as the nuclear family. According to sociologist George Murdock, the view of the nuclear family comprises of a breadwinner husband and dependant wife with children.
It is a very optimistic view of the family, which sees the interaction of the...