Functionalist and Marxist view on family

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  • Nature and role of family
    • Functionalists
      • see every institution in society as essential to the smooth running of society
      • MURDOCK = the family is so useful to society that it is inevitable and universal
      • MURDOCK = argued the family performed 4 basic functions
        • Sexual - provides a stable sexual relationship for adults and controls the sexual relationships of its members
        • Reproductive - provides new members of society
        • Economic - the family pools resources and provides for all its members
        • Educational - the family teaches children the norms and values of society
      • TALCOTT PARSONS = argued that the family has two basic and vital functions
        • Primary socialisation - the process by which children learn and accept the values and norms of society
        • Stabilisation of adult personalities - does this through the emotional relationship between parents. They give support and security needed to cope in the wider society
    • Marxism
      • view the family as performing essential functions for modern industrial society
      • The family benefits the bourgeoisie but disadvantages the proletariat
      • ENGELS = the family had an economic function of keeping wealth within the bourgeoisie by passing it onto the next generation as inheritance
      • ZARETSKY = argued that the family is the one place in society where the proletariat can have power
        • working man gets home, is king of his own castle
        • relieves some of the frustration workers feel about their low status, which helps them to accept their oppression and exploitation as workers
      • Women role of 'housewife' means workers are cared for and healthy - making them more productive
      • family household is a unit of consumption
        • Buy goods produced by the capitalist industry


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