Functionalist views on the role of the family

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  • Created on: 02-03-13 13:43
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  • Functionalist views on the role of the family
    • Basic ideas are that the family compliment society and the way it works
    • Organic analogy describes society like organs in the body that have separate roles but work with each other to keep the body
    • Functionalists believe that institutions, such as the family teach us norms and values to reproduce value consensus and help socialise the generations
    • Functionalism is a structural theory in that it believes that the social structure of society is responsible for shaping us as individuals and determining our experiences and life chance
    • Murdock - 4 Functions: Economic, educational, sexual and reproductive
      • Criticisms of Murdock - These could be performed by other family types. Feminists see the family as serving the needs of men and Marxists as meeting the needs of capitalism
    • Parsons - 2  Functions: Primary socialisation and stabilisation of adult personalities
      • Accuse of idealising the family and presenting a too simplistic explanation of its roles in society
    • Parsons Warm Bath Theory -Where the woman in the household will stay at home and soak up the stresses and strains of their husband when they come home from a long day at work
      • Marxist Feminist Ansley argues that ‘women are takers of ****’ because they deal with their husbands angers and frustrations 
    • Functionalist Fletcher believes that the family has developed new functions such as acting as a unit of consumption where goods and services are bought by families rather than as a unit of production as was the case in pre-industrial societies when extended families were the norm
    • A criticism of functionalist views of the family is that functionalists paint a picture of happy families and tend to ignore the conflict that often exists


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