Evaluating the Functionalist Theory of the Family

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  • Evaluating the Functionalist Theory of the Family
    • Weak points
      • very deterministic- people have individuality and may not be socialised the same
      • concentrates on the nuclear family and believes it is the best (Durkheims 4 functions)
      • it's positive about the family and dismissal of the dark side of the family (abuse)
    • Strong points
      • family provides economic support
      • family is universal and creates a sense of unity
    • Young and Willmott
      • 1957
        • it was called "family and kinship in east London"
          • it was a study of working class tight-knit community and their family types
        • the main family type was TRADITIONAL NUCLEAR FAMILY
        • the main family type before the 1950's was EXTENDED FAMILIES
        • PRIVATISED NUCLEAR FAMILY- nuclear family is becoming more distant from extended family.
      • 1975
        • second study called "the symmetrical family"
          • young and willmott believed women and men were beginning to take on similar roles.
            • men began to cook and clean
            • the family experienced a march of progress, meaning men and women were becoming more equal,
      • views agree with PARSONS, as they both believe the extended family has become more nuclear over time.
      • HOWEVER, they said that 72% of families they studied are now symmetrical, but Anne Oakley found that men only had to do the bare minimum for the family to be considered symmetrical
        • they also said men 'help' women, implying that domestic tasks are women's jobs


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