Murdock conducted a survey of 250 societies and determined that there are four universal residual functions of the family: sexual, reproductive, educational, and economic (Lee, 1985)
Sociologists study families on both the macro- and micro-level to determine how families function. Sociologists may use a variety of theoretical perspectives to explain events that occur within and outside of the family. In this Introduction to Sociology, we have been focusing on three perspectives: structural functionalism, critical sociology, and symbolic interactionism.
When considering the role of family in society, functionalists uphold the notion that families are an important social institution and that they play a key role in stabilizing society. They also note that family members take on status roles in a ily – and its members – perform certain functions that facilitate the prosperity and development of society.
Anthropologist George Murdock defined the family narrowly as “a social group characterized by common residence, economic cooperation, and reproduction,” which “includes adults of both sexes, at least two of whom maintain a socially approved sexual relationship, and one or more children” (Murdock, 1949). In each society, although the structure of the family varies, the family performs these four functions.
He does not deny the existence or impact of preily offers a socially legitimate sexual outlet for adults (Lee, 1985). Although societies differ greatly to the degree that that they place limitations on sexual behaviour, all societies have norms governing sexual behavior. Continue reading “According to Murdock, the family (which for him includes the state of marriage) regulates sexual relations between individuals”