Families & Relationships

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  • Families & Relationships
    • Functionalism
      • Interested in family structures, which means the way individuals are linked to one another in particular roles and relationships.
        • Families provide things that are needed by their members as well as serving the needs of society as a whole.
      • Murdock - Universal functions of the family
        • The universal nature of the nuclear family was good for many reasons. He argues the family carries out 4 functions.
          • Sexual Function -  Minimises  conflict but provides individuals with opportunities for satisfying long-term relationships.
            • Economic Function - The family acts as the unit of production; the whole family may work together to provide themselves with food.
              • Reproduction - The family is the main unit within which children are reproduced.
                • Education function - Individuals benefit by growing up to be well-balanced individuals who can fit into society, which helps ti ensure a society where there is consensus about social norms.
    • The New Right
      • Calls for a return to traditional family values, including couples waiting to marry before they have children, fathers taking responsibility for economically supporting their wives and children through paid employment.
        • New Right thinkers have attacked the government's decision to legalise same-sex marriage, arguing that children need a parent of each sex and that allowing gay marriage undermines that traditional basis of marriage as a union between a man and woman.
      • Charles Murray - The underclass
        • An underclass has emerged made up of the poorest people at the bottom of society who are dependent on welfare benefits rather than work.
          • Lays the blame on successive governments, which he argues have rewarded irresponsible behaviour in the form of having children outside of marriage.
    • Marxism
      • Reject the consensus view, arguing that capitalist societies like the UK are based on conflict due to class divisions.
        • The family serves to maintain the power of those with wealth and preserve the existing economic systems.
    • Feminism
      • Radical Feminism - Delphy & Leonard
        • Traditional forms of the family, represent a form of patriarchal control, whereby women's opportunities are limited by restrictive roles they are expected to play.
          • Men control finances and property in most families. Where women are expected to perform unpaid domestic work and undertake reproductive, sexual work.
      • Marxist feminist - Benston
        • Unpaid domestic work of women helps to support the capitalist system.
          • Women help to reproduce labour power for capitalism in 2 ways:
            • Women renew men's ability to go out to work and create profits for the capitalist class by cooking meals.
              • Women socialise and care for children, reproducing the next generation.
      • Liberal Feminism - Somerville
        • The picture of the family painted by some of women being exploited by men in families is outdated and points to the progress women have made in achieving equality in family life and personal relationships.
    • Postmodernism
      • Diversity of families and intimate relationships in society today mean that we need to be talking about families and intimate relationships rather than just family.
        • David Morgan (1996)
          • We should focus on family practices rather than the family.
            • Individuals create families and other networks of intimate relationships by their daily activities like talking to one another.


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