INTRODUCING APPLIED SOCIOLOGY
Is the nuclear family universal? Discuss with reference to the different family units in contemporary society.
Is the nuclear family universal? To answer this question it is needed to start explaining what "a nuclear family" is. But, like in many psychological terms, it is hard to find an objective definition.
In the view of David Cheal (cited by Bert N.Adams) a problem in writing his book was "the assumption in standard sociological theory that there is a universal core to family life, which can be given an objective definition as the family".
But in order to discuss about this term, it is useful to take a definition as objective as it could be. We can define the nuclear family as a group consisting of the father, mother, and their children,as distinct from the extended family (which consists not only of nuclear family but also embracing the grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and sometimes more distant relatives).
So we can concluded (according to Parkin 1997, p. 28) that “strictly, a nuclear or elementary or conjugal family consists merely of parents and children, though it often includes one or two other relatives as well, forexample, a widowed parent or unmarried sibling of one or other spouse”.
From a sociological point of view, we have to take into account cultural differences. Again: is the family universal? "According to the convergence thesis, family practices tend to become more alike in societies which undergo modernization" (David Cheal 2002, p. 22).
According to the statistics of the NSO (NationalStatistics Office) in 2003 in Malta the family structure was:
One person household, under 30 years
One person household, 30-64 years
One person household, 65+ years
2 adults, no dependent children – both adults under 65 years
2 adult, no dependent children – at least 1 adult 65+ years
Other households without dependent children
Single parent households, 1 or more dependentchildren
2 adults and 1 dependent children
2 adults and 2 dependent children
2 adults, 3 or more dependent children
Other households with dependent children
('Dependent children' are persons below 16 or persons aged 16 to 24, livingin a household of which at least one of their parents is a member and who are economically inactive.)
The statistics show that there has not been a very big change in two years:
Because in order to see changes in society, it is needed to analyze a very extensive period of time.
Nowadays, however, it is a fact that there are many changes in the currently landscape of the family. Inthe words of Linda Laura Sabbadini: "the traditional nuclear family unit of a married couple with children is not representative of the majority of households. " It is needed to talk about the alternative family structures. There are families without children, single-parent families, the new homosexual families structure, etc.
Before looking at the NSO's statistics aboutsingle parenthood, it is needed to define some terms.
According to the NSO a household is classified as a single parent if: "he/she is either single, separated, annulled or divorced and has not re-married, or widowed and has not re-married" and "lives in a house with at least one dependent child".
Consequently, a "single parent household" is "a household in which the head is a single parent".Taking into account this definition, the statistics of the HBS (Household Budgetary Survey) show that in Malta in 2003 there were 3,310 single parents household, or 2.6% (out of a total of 127,970). The 76.1% out of these (2,500) were single mother households. The number of this family structure (single mother household) amounted to 2% of the total number of households, and 10.2% of the female...
Leer documento completo
Regístrate para leer el documento completo.