Marxists view on the family

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  • Marxism SY1
    • developed by Karl Marx in the 1800's.
      • belongs to the structuralist school of thought.
        • This means the society shapes behaviour. They tend to do things the macro approach.
          • They see this in a negative light, they say relations in society are based on conflicts whereas Functionalists would see this in a positive light. they believe relations in society are based on consensus.
    • Theory based on the idea that we have passed through different periods of time (epochs).
      • each time we enter a new epoch it is because the way we produce things/ survive in society has changed.
      • 1. primitive communism- the means of production. (hunting etc). no social classes.
        • in the first 4 epochs there are 2 social classes; those who own the means of production and those who only own their own labour.
      • 2. Ancient epoch- the means of production. slavery- (2 social classes.)
      • 3. Feudalism- the means of production- agriculture. (2 social classes)
      • 4. capitalism- the means of production.- industrial. (2 social classes.)
        • concentrated his studies on the 4th epoch- capitalism.
          • Bourgeoise owned the factories (minority). proletariat owned their own labour and sold to the Bourgeoisie in exchange for a wage.
            • saw industrial society as highly exploitative and unfair. Argued for a communist society.
          • if the proletariat are producing wealth in a country and are only receiving a small % of and don't complain because of false class consciousness.
            • this is possible because the bourgeoisie own all the institutions in society (superstructure of institutions) which work to maintain the social class system.
              • these institutions are Mass Media, Education System, Family, Religion and Law.
                • the Bourgeoisie only let the Proletariat know what they want them to know.
                  • according to Marx the Proletariat will become aware they are being exploited and will gain class consciousness. resulting in a revolution.
      • 5. communism- the time period Marx was looking forward to. no social classes and the means of production shared equally.
    • Family
      • inheritence of property
        • the key factor determining the shape of all social institutes is the mode of production. (who owns and controls society's production forces.
          • in Modern society, it is the capitalist class that owns/ controls these means of production.
            • as the mode of production evolves, so does the family.
              • along with increased wealth came the development of private property. this brought about the patriarchal monogamous nuclear family.
                • Engles said monogamy became essential because of the inheritnce of private property- men had to be certain of the paternity of their children.
                  • in Engel view, monogamous nuclear families represented a 'world historical defeat of the female sex' as it brought womens sexuality under male control.
                    • only with the overthrow of capitalism will women achieve liberation from patriarchal control.
      • Ideological functions
        • the family today performs key functions for Capitalism.
          • by ideology, Marxists mean a set of ideas or beliefs that justify inequality and maintain the capitalist system by persuading people to accept it as fair, natural or changeable.
            • socialises children into the idea of the hierarchy and inequality beign inevitable.
        • Zaretsky (1976), family performs an ideological function by offering an apparent 'haven' from the harsh and exploited state. it is largely an illusion- the family cannot meet its members' needs.
      • A unit of consumption
        • exploits the labour of workers, making profit from selling the products of their labour for more than it pays them to produce.
          • media targets children using 'pester power' to persuade parents to spend more.
      • Marxists see the family as performing several functions that maintain capitalist society: inheritance of private property, socialisation into acceptance of inequality.
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    • AO2
      • Functionalists- a family is to maintain society. motr important than ther ejust to hand down in the future. (conflict and census approach.)
      • Feminists- partiarchal monogamous family trying to get women to stay at home. ignores inequality of women.
      • wouldn't want the traditional nuclear family. they would prefer to have boys to ensure someone was there to pass on their wealth to.


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