• Created by: abulltc
  • Created on: 17-12-18 14:26
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  • functionalism
    • A theory which views society as a system of connected parts and they compare society to the human body.
    • Believes the most important institution is the family.
      • Maintains social order
      • Plays a major role in the construction and maintenance of an effective economy.
      • Benefits individuals
        • Adults and children benefit from emotional well-being and satisfaction associated with marriage and family life.
      • Consequently family members are happy to take their place in society as responsible and well behaved citizens.
    • George Peter Murdock (1949)
      •  Studied 250 different societies and argued that some form of the nuclear family was universal.
      • Four essential functions of the family
        • Sexual - provides a sexual relationship for adults.
        • Economic - pools resources and provides for all its members.
        • Reproductive - provides new members of society.
        • Educational - teaches children the values and norms of society.
      • Criticisms of Murdock
        • Feminist sociologists – Murdock argues that the family is ideological because traditional family structures typically disadvantage women.
        • Feasible that other institutions could perform these functions too.
        • Research has shown that some cultures don’t appear to have ‘families’ – e.g. the Nayar in India.
        • Murdock’s definition of the nuclear family is very ethnocentric and reflective of a particular time and place – based on his own experience of the American family in the 1940s.
        • Dated – fails to take into account modern trends: reproduction, sexual, socialisation.
        • Murdock’s emphasis on two parents and heterosexual marriage is politically conservative: he is saying there is a ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ way to organise family life.
      • Strengths of Murdock
        • Gave basic functions of the family.
        • Able to see the change in trends.


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