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In this modern society the family is typically acknowledged as a nuclear family There are various definitions of the family according to Bessant and Watts 2002 the family consists of a maximum of two generations sharing the same residence where the mother and father are married based on a sexual and love relationship with biological children The family stays together until the children reach independence and parts from the family to form a new nuclear family Murdock 1949 p1 citied in Baker 2001 p80 labels the nuclear family as a social group characterized by common residence economic cooperation and reproduction Murdock states that the families universally perform certain functions in the society in order to be of existence He identified four critical functions that families ought to fulfill namely the sexual reproduction educational and economic function Bottomley 1985 However through industrialization and development in technology the family in the present modern society is undergoing alterations In this essay we will discuss the changes in respect to Murdochs theory of the four functions the family performs The sexual function claims that two individuals set up a family as the family is a legitimate platform for the bearing and rearing of children and marriage is the accepted union for sexual relationships between two adults in society Aspin 1982 This is proclaimed to be beneficial to social order as the family allows sexual expression between a couple and regulates sexual activity in ways that foster a disciplined society Bessant and Watts 2002 However improved methods of contraception allow people to indulge in sexual activity even when they are not in a marriage Also there seemed to be greater acceptance to de facto relationships as noted from the increase in cohabitation between Australian couples Statistics shows that in 1975 only 16 of couples cohabitated prior to marriage the figures then increased to 27 in 1983 and in the year 2003 it shot to an alarmingly 75 ABS 2004
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