Marxist ideas on family functions (to benefit the capitalist system)

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  • Marxist ideas on family functions (to benefit the capitalist system)
    • Ideological functions
      • Family socialises children into believing hierarchy and inequality are inevitable
      • Parental power over children makes them think there must always be someone in charge (usually a man), and prepares them for a working life under capitalist employers
      • Makes capitalism seem justified and unchangeable. Maintains it
      • Elizaretsky- family offers an apparent haven from the harsh and exploitative world of capitalism. Largely illusory- the family cannot meet the member's needs, e.g. based on the domestic servitude of women
    • Unit of consumption
      • Important market for sale of consumers goods
        • Advertisers urge families to consume all the latest products
        • Workers end up buying what they made!
          • Often at costs higher than what they earnt in wages!
        • Media targets children, who use pester power to persuade parents to spend
        • Peers mock those lacking must have clothes, gadgets, etc.
    • Inheritance of property
      • Family evolves with the mode of production. Once capitalism goes, there will be no further need of the patriarchal nuclear family- no need to transmit private property down the generations
      • Earliest, classless society was a 'promiscuous horde' with no family or sexual restrictions (Friedrich Engels)
      • Increased wealth -> private property -> patriarchal monogamous nuclear family (men need certainty it's their children to ensure legitimate heirs)
      • Turns women into a 'mere instrument for the production of children'
    • Criticisms
      • Functionalists- ignores benefits of the family, e.g. intimacy, mutual support
      • Feminists- underestimates gender inequality. Family primarily serves the interest of men, not capitalism
      • Ignores the wide and increasing variety of family structures today


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