Functionalist theories of the family

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  • Created by: Lilly
  • Created on: 10-01-13 12:26
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  • Functionalist theories of the family
    • Key thinkers:
      • Talcott Parsons 1959, believes the family has 2 'baisc and irreducible functions'
        • 1) Primary socialisation- the family was the only instituion in which primary socialisation can take place so that children would internalze he norms and values of their society
        • 2) Stabilization of adult personalities (warm bath theory)
      • Gerorge Murdock 1949, believed that the nuclear family was a universal institution vital to the well being of societies
        • 3) Educational function- provides stable enviroment in which children can be socialzed into the culture of their society
        • 2) Reproductive- ensures survival of society
        • 4) Economic function
        • 1) Sexual function- prevents disruption to society by limiting sexuality to on relationship
    • Criticism of the view
      • Families and society benefit from men being main breadwinners and women being main carers
        • Feminists view this as patriarchal and sexist
      • Dominant family type has shifted from  extended to nuclear
        • Ignores evidence of non-dominance of extended family in the pre-industrial era, and decline of nuclear family and incresing family diversity
      • Family unit benefits all members
        • Feminists argue men benefit more than women
      • Nuclear family best adopted to modern society- mobile
        • Postmodernists argue there are visibaible alternatives- single hoseholds, cohabitation
      • Family is functional for all family members
        • Ignores the 'dark side'- domestic violcence, sexual abuse
      • family has unique functional role
        • C: some socities don't have traditional families
    • Perspective
      • Assume that institutions help run society smoothly, like a well-oiled machine
      • Look at the positives of the family
      • Every institution in society performs one or more importnat functions or jobs
      • They believes society interrelates as a whole


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