The Nature and Role of Family in Society

Mindmap on the nature and role of the family. This is part one. Part two is also provided. 

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  • Created on: 28-11-12 17:42
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  • The nature and role of family in society
    • Families and households are always the same thing
      • households = people who live togehter who may not be family or have kinship ties
      • 2001 census foud 24.4million households in the uk
      • social trend = increase of people living along
      • A family is a type of household where the people are related
      • Kinship means related by birth or blood
      • Families can be related through non kindship ties as well - foster, guardians, mother in law etc
      • Nuclear family = two generations living together (mother father and dependent children)
      • Extended families: three generations living together
      • Beanpole family: nuclear family with one or two chilren who maintain regular contact with grandparents
      • single parent families: 25% of families. More than tripled since 1970's. 90% headed by women. 1 in 5 children.
      • Same sex families: increasing.
      • reconstituted families: made of adult couple, married or unmarried, living with at least one child from a past relationship of one of the partners
    • Functionalists emphasise the positive role of the family
      • See every institution in society as essential to the smooth running of society
      • MURDOCK: family so useful to society that its inevitable and universal  - you cant avoid having family units
      • MURDOCK: looked at 250 societies, different cultures, found four basic functions
        • Economic: pools resources and provides for all its members, adults and children
          • Sexual: stable relationship for adults, controls the sexual relationships of its members
        • Reproductive: provides new babies - new members of society
          • Educational: teaches children value and norms of society, keeps the values of society going
            • Economic: pools resources and provides for all its members, adults and children
              • Sexual: stable relationship for adults, controls the sexual relationships of its members
      • TALCOTT PARSONS:2 basic, irredcible functions. 1. primary socialisation and stabilisation of adult personalities. "Factories" where next citizens are produced. Sanctuary from the stress of everyday life.
    • Some functionalists ignore the negative aspects of family life
      • Criticised for idealising the family.
      • MORGAN (1975) says murdock makes no reference to alternative households or to disharmony and problems in families
      • Widespread criticism issues such as conflict, class or violence in families arent talked of by parsons or murdock
      • Feminists say they ignore the exploitation of women
      • Because they ignore things, their position looks weak
    • Marxists see the family as meeting the needs of capitalist system
      • Like functionalists they see the family as performing essential functions for modern industrial society
      • Argue that family benefits the minority in power (bourgeoisie) and the economy, but disadvantages the working class majority (proletariat)
      • ENGELS (1884) family had economic function of keeping wealth within the bourgeoisie by passing it on to the next generation. (inheritance) rich person dies - kids get money
      • ZARETSKY (1976) focused on how family helped capitalist economy. Said family is the one place where proletariat have power + control. Woking man = kind of his own castle. Relive frustration of workers, helping to accept oppression and exploitation of workers.
      • Roles of women is as "housewife" means workers are cared for and healthy. Makes them more productive. Great benefit capitalist class get for free.
      • Family is a unit with the desire to buy goods produced by capitalist industry. Theyre a unit of consumption.They buy goods for more than they cost to make and the bourgeoisie get the profit.
      • Their view is criticised for being to negative. Its always about being a tool of capitalist oppression, never nice things, like bedtime stories or trips.
      • Entirely focused on benefits to the economy, and benefits to the working mans boss, never talking about other benefits to individuals in society.
      • Assumes the worker is male, and that women are housewives
      • No explanation for why family flourishes as in instituation in non-capitalist or communist societies and little reasearch on alternatives to the family.


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