The Family is changing in structure, size and function.

Discuss with reference to Malta The family is primary group linked by kin connections where adult members assume responsibility for caring of children. The functionalists see the family as a universal one According to Murdock the nuclear family which is the smallest family unit that consists of a husband, wife and their dependent offspring is universal. The extended family which is a larger family grouping consisting of other members related by birth marriage or adoption is limited. There are three types of modified extended families. These are the Local Extended Family, the Dispersed Extended Family and the Attenuated Extended Family. By a study that has been made it results that Maltese families qualify to be defined as Local Extended Families. This means that Maltese families consists of two or three nuclear families related to each other and living in separate households but near each other. The family life passed through four stages. These are the pre-industrial family which is a unit of production. This means that the husband, wife and unmarried children work for example on their own piece of land. The early industrial family is not common to find nowadays. This type of family didn’t remain a unit of production but members of the family (usually men) were employed as wage earners. Poverty was widespread, wages were low and unemployment high. Due to this the conjugal bond (husband-wife relationship) weakened. Young and Willmot claimed that husband squeezed out of the family circle and tool to the pub as a defence. The symmetrical family is the most dominant. The number of children per family reduced with better living standards and the conjugal bond is strong. The husband and wife share their chores and decisions. The women are still responsible for raising the children but husbands help. Stage four of the family life is an

assumption. ‘My business is my life’ is a typical quote of the stage four families. Leisure activities are less home centred and doesn’t involve members of the family. Studies show that in Malta a family used to consist of husband, wife and more than seven children but know the family size has diminished for various socio-economic reasons. According to Murdock the family performs four basic functions which he termed as sexual, reproductive, economic and educational . Some sociologists argue that the family has lost a number of functions. Parsons argued that the family has become almost completely functionless. However the family hasn’t lost it’s importance but has become more specialized. The family provides it’s members with support and care towards the requirements of the social system. Fletcher argued that the family hasn’t lost any of it’s functions, on contrary it has improved it’s functions. A research shows that the amount of Maltese married people who do not agree with the church regarding divorce has increased. Another research shows that the traditions followed by Maltese families are no longer traditional ones of good manners, honesty and others but are following also post-traditional ones such as self control and responsibility. Maltese families maintain very frequent contact between each other and on a continuous basis. The members in maltese family reduced and the bond between them is stronger. Through the years the Maltese people have different opinions about divorce, birth contol, abortion and civil marriage than the traditional teachings of catholic church. References: Sociological Aspects of the Maltese Islands Haralombus and Holborn- Sociology Themes and Perspectives

Charlene Saliba