The Nature and Role of Family in Society (2)

This is part 2. Part 1 also available. 

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  • The Nature and Role of family in society (2)
    • Most Feminists believe the family exploits and oppresses women
      • The family helps maintain the existing social order, same as marxists and functionalists
      • They call the existing social order "patriarchy" which is a combination of systems, ideologies and cultural practices which make sure that men have power.
      • family supports and reproduces inequalities between men and women
      • idea that women are oppressed because they socialised to be dependant on men and put themselves in second place to men. Family has a central role in this socialisation. Male and female roles and expectations formed in the family and then carried on into wider society.
      • Three main strands of feminism. The difference between them is what they see as the root of patriarchy. Radical feminist = power dominance of men, Marxist = capitalist system. Liberal = cultural attitudes and laws that allow discrimination
        • Marxist: exploitation of women = success capitalism. Produces and cares for the next generation of workers with no cost to the capitalist system. Men are paid for work outside the home but women arent paid for work in it. Even now, evidence shows even women who work still do most of the domestic labour.
        • Radical: housework = area of exploitation of women but dont see this as a fault of the capitalist system. They see is as down to the domination of men. Believe men will always oppress women.
        • Emphasise the cultural norms and values which are reinforced by the family and by other institutions. Only sexist because it supports mainstream culture. Believe social change is possible. Try to put pressure on legal system and government to change laws and social policies which discriminate against women.
      • BENSTON: Marxist feminist: If housework were paid even at minimum wage levels it would damage capitalist profits hugely.
      • ANSLEY (1972): Marxist feminist: Men take out their frustration and stress from work on women, instead of challenging the capitalist system.
      • DELPHY AND LEONARD (1992): Radical feminist: See the family as patriarchal institution in which women do most of the work and men get most of the benefit.
      • Criticised for portraying women as too passive. Plays down their ability of individual women to make changes and improve their situation.
      • Doesnt acknowledge that power might be shared within a family
      • Doesnt consider households in society which dont feature a man and woman partnership and single parent households. Their power structures dont get looked at.
      • Black feminists have pointed out that a lot of feminist theory doesnt address the fact that women from different ethnic backgrounds have different life experiences.
    • The New Right believe the nuclear family is the bedrock of society
      • Reckon that social policies on family, children, divorce, and welfare have undermined the family.
      • CHARLES MURRAY (1989): welfare benefits are too high and create a "culture of dependency" where an individual finds it easy and acceptable to take benefits rather than work
      • Concerned about giving lots of welfare benefits to single mothers. They also think that its a very bad idea to have children brought up in families where adults are working
      • Increase in lone-parent and reconstituted families and the easier access to divorce have led to a breakdown in traditional values This has caused crime to increase.
      • Criticised for blaming the victim for their problems.
    • Postmodernists say diversity in family structures is a good thing.
      • There a much wider range of living options available these days - because of social and cultural changes. There are traditional nuclear families, stepfamilies, cohabiting unmarried couples, single people flatsharing, more divorced people
      • JUDITH STACEY (1990) reckons there's such a diversity of family types, relationships and lifestyles that there'll never be one dominant type of family in western culture again. She says that "western family arrangements are diverse, fluid and unresolved" Meaning a person can move from one family structure into another, and not get stuck with one fixed structure.
      • Contemporary living is so flexible that one individual can experience lots of different tyoes if family in their lifetime. They see diversity and flexibility as positive - because it means individuals can always choose from several options depending on what suits their personal needs and lifestyle. People arent hemmed in by tradition.
      • criticised for whether this "journey through many family types" is really all that typical. OBRIEN AND JONES: said from their research there was less variety in family types than Stacey reported, and that most individuals actually experienced only one or two different types of family in their lifetime.




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