Functionalist Views of the family

  • Created by: Ja11en
  • Created on: 05-03-15 12:08
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  • Functionalist Views of the family
    • Role of society
      • Transmitting values, norms etc to the next generation
      • Teaching particular skills in order that the economy - the engine of society
      • Allocating people to family and occupational roles which make best use of their talents and abilities
    • Family?
      • Functionalists see the family as playing a major role in achieving these social goals
      • They view the family as the cornerstone of society because it plays the dominant role amongst all social institutions in making individuals feel part of wider society
      • The family is seen as meeting the needs of individuals for emotional satisfaction, social support, identity and security
    • Functionalists see the family as extremely functional - it is both beneficial and necessary for the smooth running of society and the personal development of individuals
    • G.P Murdock
      • Compared over 250 societies and claimed that the nuclear family was universal
      • Reproductive - Society requires new members to ensure its survival
        • Sexual - This function serves both society and the individual. Martial sex creates a powerful emotional bond between a couple (stability)
          • Educational - Culture needs to be transmitted to the next generation, so children need to be effectively socialised into the dominant values etc
        • Economic - Adult family members show their commitment to the care, protection and maintenance of their dependants by becoming productive workers and bringing home an income.
      • Evaluation of Murdock:
        • Interpretivist sociologists argue that Murdock fails to acknowledge that families are the product of culture rather than biology, and that, family relationship and roles will take different forms even within the same society.
          • Murdock's definition of the family and its functions is also quite conservative in that it deprives certain members of society of family status.
    • Parsons
      • The family acts as a bridge between children and their involvement in wider society.
        • Other sociologists point out that the family is important in terms of both political and religious socialisation.
      • Stabilisation of adult personalities
        • Relieve stresses of modern-day living for its adult members.
          • Warm bath theory - loving, stable environment where the individual adults can be themselves and even 'let themselves go' in a childish and undignified way.
            • Acts as a safety valve in that it prevents stress from overwhelming adult family members and as a result it strengthens social stability.
              • Parsons viewed the family as a positive and beneficial place for all its members. A place where people can be their natural selves.


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