Sociology- Functionalist view on family

  • Created by: Daisymac
  • Created on: 01-02-19 09:56
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  • Functionalist perspective on the family
    • What?
      • Functionalists believe that society is based on a value consensus - A set of shared norms and values- into which society socializes its members.
      • Regard society as a system made up of different parts or sub systems that depend on each other -- Organic analogy
      • Murdock 1949 argues that the family performs 4 essential functions to meet the needs of society and its members
        • Stable satisfaction of the sex drive with the same partner, preventing social disruption caused by a sexual 'free-for-all'
        • Reproduction of the next generation, without which society could not continue
        • Socialisation of the young into shared norms and values
        • Meeting its members' economic needs, such as food and shelter
    • Criticisms of Murdoch
      • Few sociologists would doubt that these functions as the most important and could be performed by other institutions
      • Marxists and feminists reject his rose tinted harmonious consensus view that the family meets of both wider society and all the different family members
      • They argue functionalism neglects conflict and exploitation
        • Feminists=Serving the needs of men and oppressing women
        • Marxists= Meets the needs of capitalism
    • Parsons functional fit theory
      • The functions that the family performs depends on the the kind of society in which it is found
      • The functions that the family has to perform will affect its shape/structure
        • Parsons identifies 2 types of family structure: Nuclear family and extended family
      • Argues that there are two types of society- Modern industrial society and the traditional pre-industrial society
        • Argues that the nuclear family fits the needs of industrial society while extended needs to fit the needs of pre-industrial
      • Due to industrialisation in the lat 18th century, the extended family began due to having different needs. H sees industrial society as having two essential needs
        • A geographical mobile workforce- In modern society,industries constantly pop up and decline in different parts of the country and parts of the world.
          • Parsons argues that is is easier for the compact two-generation nuclear family to move than for the three-generation extended family.
        • A socially mobile workforce- Modern industrial society is based on constantly evolving science and technology and it requires skill.
          • Parsons argues that the nuclear family is better equipped to meet the needs of the industrial society.
          • In the extended family, adult sons live at home in their fathers house and the father has a higher ascribed status as head of the house. Argues leaving home enables social mobility.
    • Loss of functions
      • Parsons argues that when society industrialises,the family loses lots of its functions.
        • Eg. The family ceases to be a unit of production as work moves into factories and the family becomes a unit of consumption  only
      • Argues that due to the loss of functions, the modern nuclear family becomes to specialise in performing just two essential functions
        • Primary socialisation of children to equip them with basic skills and society's values, to enable them to cooperate with others and begin to integrate them into society
        • The stabilisation of adult personalities : The family is a place where adults can relax and release tensions, enabling them to return to the workplace refreshed and ready to meet its demands


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