Functionalism and the family

HideShow resource information
View mindmap
  • Functionalism and the Family:
    • Functionalist Theory:
      • They believe that the different parts of society need to work together in order to maintain stability and order within society.
      • They see the family as a vital "organ" in maintaining the "body" of society. So society wouldn't be able to function without the family
      • They believe that the family provides basic needs which enable society to survive.
      • The way in which the family fits with other social institutions such as education and work means that society can function efficiently.
    • Murdock (1949)
      • Compared 250 societies and claimed that the nuclear family was universal. So some form of it existed in every known society.
        • Sexual
          • This function serves both society and an individual
          • Unregulated sexual behaviour does have the potential to be disruptive.
          • Marital sex creates a powerful emotional bond between a couple. It encourages fidelity and therefore commits an individual to family life.
          • Sex within marriage contributes to social order and stability because marital fidelity sets the moral rules for general sexual behaviour
        • Reproductive
          • Soceity requires new members to ensure its survival. Procreation generally occurs within a marital and family context.
        • Economis
          • Adult family members show their commitment to care, protection and maintenance of other family members by being productive workers and bringing home an income.
          • It benefits society as it is assumed that the family members should take their place in the economy and the division of labour. Therefore contributing to the smooth running of the economy and society.
        • Educatitonal
          • Culture needs to be transmitted to the next generation.
          • Children need to be effiectly socialised into the dominant values, norms, customs and rituals of a society.
      • Criticisms:
        • A very multi-dimensional l look at the family which shows its flexibility and is important in many everyday tasks and in life in general.
        • He didn't consider whether the family is ill or breaks down.
        • There functions could be adequately preformed by other institutions..
        • Murdock's view is "Fairyland" so many researchers do not share his view.
    • Parsons (1959) "Functional Fit Theory"
      • He distingused between two types of family:
        • Nuclear family
          • Of just parents and dependent children
          • Represents industrial society
        • Extended Family
          • Of three generations living under one roof.
            • He argues that the particular structure and functions of a given type of family will "fit" the needs of society in which it is found.
              • Of just parents and dependent children
              • In parsons view when Britain began to industrialise the extended family began to give way to the nuclear family.
          • Represents the extended family/
      • Parson saw industrial society as having two essential needs:
        • A geographically mobile workforce:
          • industrial societies required people to move for work
          • This movement was restricted by practicalities of parents and dependent children.
        • A comically mobile workforce
          • This was needed for industial society because of technological advancements and the need for a skilled work force.
          • Pre-industrial society meant ascribed status however industrial societly based status on merit. e.g the son of a labourer could become a docotro if he was good enough.
      • He proposed that the family had two main functions which are common to families in all societies.
        • Primary Socialisation - refers to socialisation during the early years of childhood within the family.
          • This involves two main processes in the internalisation of society's culture and the structuring of the personality. Unless these happen society would cease to exist, since without norms and values social life would not be possible.
        • Secondary socialisation - occurs in later years from peer groups and school
          • This involves two main processes in the internalisation of society's culture and the structuring of the personality. Unless these happen society would cease to exist, since without norms and values social life would not be possible.
      • Parsons argues families are like factories which produce human personalities.
      • He believed they are essential for this purpose, since primary socialisation requires a context that provides warmth, security and mutual support.
      • Stabilisation of adult personalities.
        • Once the personality has been created it must be kept stable through secondary socialisation with involves the stabilisation of adult personalities.
        • The emphasis is on the marriage relationship and the support, stress relief and the emotional security that is provides.
        • This theory is called the "warm bath" theory" and it claims that family life "stabilises" adult personalities.
        • This emotional support and security and the opportunity to engage in play with children, acts as a safety value in that it prevents stress from overwhelming family members, and as a result it strengthens social stability.
        • In this sense, parsons viewed the family as a positive beneficial place for all its members where they can be their natural selves.
      • "Warm Bath Theory"
        • A child is taught what is the norm in society and what is valued.
        • Personality is mouldered to fit their expectations and parsons argues that families are "factories" that produce human personalities.
        • The family provides warmth, security and mutual support, he argues that no other institution can do this.
        • The nuclear family is important as they all support each other - therefore the family like a warm bath because of the support it offers.
    • Gender role socialisation
      • Children learn what is reguarded as behaviour expected of their gender.
      • What is seen as appropriate as masculine and feminine behaviour
      • These are socially constructed by society and are reinforced by education and the mass media
    • Social control
      • The way our parents bring us up effects what we think is morally correct when we are older (right and wrong)
      • Giving children things such as rewards when they do the right thing and punishments when they do something wrong.
      • Therefore the family ensures the moral education of children who usually grow up to become law abiding citizens and workers
    • Social status
      • Being born into a family results in the aqusition of an ascribed status.
      • Things such as age, gender, birth order, ethnicity, religion and social class are all from ascribed status/
    • Economic consumption
      • Family companies, farms and shops continue to exist in the 21st century.
      • It can be argued that the family's economic function today is a until of consumptions - good and services provided by the economy are mainly consumed by the family unit.
    • Recreation and lesuire
      • During the 21st centrury the family became an important centre for recreation  and leisure.
      • Children in the 1990's was when parents started to interpret the world as a much risker place for children and children began to spend more time in the home.
      • Evans and Chandler
        • Showed how homes and specifically children's bedrooms are oftern now furnished with media and technological entertainment, such as televisios, Dvd's and computer games/
    • Protective and welfare functions.
      • The welfare support a child revieces from its parents e.g. shelter, diet..ect. all depends on the families socio-economic status which is then dependent on the occupoation and income of major wage earners.
      • Welfare support also takes the form of family members being cared for and supported by others if they are ill, disabled etc.
      • o the family alongside the NHS helps the more vulnerable members of society. Functionalists therefore see family as a crucial social institution functioning positively to bring about health societies and individuals.
    • Criticisms::
      • Many researchers do not share parons "fairland view" of the family.
      • Feminists argue that families exploit and  supress women and covers up social problems such as increased divorce rates a, child abuse and domestic violence
      • Parson's picture is largely based on American families which are not representative, what about the differences between middle class and working class families?
      • Parson didn't consider if the family is ill or breaks down these functions could be preformed adequately by other institutions.
      • Parsons tended to ignore the two-way relationship between a child and parent suggesting that it is only one way where the parents give and children take. What about individual personalities and choice to reject families beliefs.

Comments

No comments have yet been made

Similar Sociology resources:

See all Sociology resources »See all Families and households resources »