Functionalist perspective on the family

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  • Functionalist Perspective
    • Functionalism
      • Structural theory
      • Consensus theory - empahsise shared norms & values not conflict
      • assume each social institution exists for a reason- must have function/purpose
      • Critisms of functionalist perspective
        • Rose tinted view
          • Marxists and feminists disagree with view that family meets all needs of society and its members
        • Ignores dysfunctions of the family
          • functionalists criticised for assuming all families happy & functional - many are dysfuntional
        • Ignores family diversity in modern society
          • perspective ignores modern family types ;like, single parent, homosexual etc
    • Peter Murdock
      • sees family as an essential sub-system in society
      • 1. Stable satisfaciton of sex drive - same partner - prevents social disruption
      • 2. reproduction of next generation
      • 3. socialisation of the young
      • 4. meeting members economic needs
      • Criticisms of murdock
        • other instituitions perform these functions just as well
        • Marxists & feminists - rose tinted consensus view - neglects conflict & exploitation
          • Feminists - family serves mens needs & oppresses women
          • Marxists - family meets needs of capitalism not its members
    • Organic Analogy
      • Functionalists see society as a biological organism
        • Body system made up of different parts which function together & maintain/meet  its needs
          • Society also made up of lots of different 'parts' (institutions) which work together to meet needs
      • Family plays role of maintaining social system - positive as it helps running of society as a whole
        • Society also made up of lots of different 'parts' (institutions) which work together to meet needs
    • Parsons - 1955
      • Industrial society has 2 needs which nuclear family better adapted too
        • Geographica-lly mobile workforce
          • industries in lots of different areas - people may need to move to get better jobs
            • nuclear family easier to move than full extended family
        • Socially mobile workforce
          • need skilled workforce - talented get promoted regardless of background as in modern society status is achieved not ascribed - makes social mobility possible
      • believed just two essential functions of family due to industrilisat-ion
        • Primary socialisation of children
          • 2 parents important for raising kids
        • Stabalisation of adult personalities
          • family place where adults can relax / release tensions - so can meet works demands
      • Criticisms
        • Nuclear family existed before industrilisation
        • Young & Willmott
          • Dominant pre-industrial family was nuclear anyway
        • Hardship of early industrial period led to rise in mum centered WC family
          • Mum and daughters stayed close and offered emotional and physical support to each other


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