Functionalist views of family functions

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  • Functionalist views of family functions
    • Parsons 'functional fit' theory (the family functions depending on what society it's in)
      • Extended family for preindustrial society
        • /Young and Willmott- preindustrial family was nuclear, e.g. parents and children together in cottage industries.      /Lasslett- nuclear, as grandparents didn't last long due to late childbearing and short lifespans
      • Nuclear family for industrial society. It is a:
        • Geographically mobile workforce- a compact 2- generation family, easier to move than extended families to where jobs spring up
        • Socially mobile workforce- modern society cares about achieved status and a skilled competent workforce- those from humble backgrounds can get jobs and promotion, but in extended, binding obligations and status conflicts prevent this
        • Young and Willmott- nuclear emerged due to geographical mobility, higher living standards, women working, welfare state and better housing
        • Extended family still provides financial help, childcare  and emotional support
        • /Young and Willmott- early industrial hardships gave rise to the 'mum-centred' working class extended family for support.          /Michael Anderson- in mid 19th century Preston, the benefits of the extended family outweighed costs for the time's harsh conditions.     /Tamara Hareven- extended family was a source of security and mutual aid
    • Can have welfare, military, political or religious functions
    • Parsons' irreducible functions, which can't be replaced through industrialisation:
      • Primary socialisation of kids with basic skills to integrate into society
      • Stabilisation of adult personalities- adults can relax to meet the workplace's demands
    • George Peter Murdock:
      • Stable satisfaction of the sex drive
      • Reproduction of the next generation
      • Socialisation of the young
      • Meeting member's economic needs
    • Some functions can be done equally by other institutions or family structures
    • Feminists- the family is based on patriarchy
    • Marxists- the family serves capitalism only


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