No matter how extensive the family membership is, the mutual bonds under a common authority exist among the members of a family. The evolving traits of the family’s structure are best explicated by sociological theories such as functionalist, conflict, and interactionism.
Functionalists view that every society has interrelated social institutions, including the family, the educational institutions, the religious sects, the government and political system, and the mass media (Giddens & Griffiths, 2006). Each social institution contributes toward the advancement of the society. Since every society operates based on the consensus of its members, it serves the best interest of the general populace. In particular, functionalists emphasized the value of social structures than that of the individuals. Functionalism is a “top-down,” structuralist theory, which gives more importance on the societal structure and stratification, rather than on the individuals (Giddens & Griffiths, 2006). Functionalism views individuals as the product of social influences as they continuously expose themselves to other structures or members of the society, including family members, peers, relatives, and media. Family as a social institution, in the eyes of the functionalists, is beneficial to individuals because they usually experience physical care and emotional support from it.
In 1965, Talcott Parsons tackled the origin of “family” and the roots of nuclear family (Giddens & Griffiths, 2006). He suggested that prior to industrial revolution societies were founded on an extensive network of kinship. This network bridges the relationship of the family members to the members of the nuclear family. In such family networks, the role of each member is mainly defined not by any skills or educational background, but through ascription. G.P. Murdock argued that the nuclear family has universally existed because it supported the economic,