Unit 1 Families and Households - Family and Social Structure

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  • The Family and Social Structure
    • What is a Family
      • A family is a people that we are connected to through genetics or by law.
      • Different types of family?
        • Extended Family
        • Nuclear Family
        • Beanpole families
        • Single Parent Families
        • Modified extended families
        • Reconstituted families
        • Cohabiting family
    • Functionalist theories of the family
      • Functionalists only look at the positives of the family life which help society.
      • Four functions of families discovered by Murdock 1949
        • Economic function - acts as an economic unit ensuring the survival of the members by food and shelter.
        • Sexual function - limiting sexuality to monogamous relationships.
        • Educational Function - a stable environment helping their children socialize into society.
        • Reproductive function - ensures there is a new generation to help society.
      • Talcott Parsons 1959, 1965. Two functions
        • Primary Socialization - the first and most important stage of socialization. Thus making sure children would internalize the norms and values.
        • Stabilization of adult personalities - in isolated nuclear families they don't receive support from extended kinship. welcomed to a warm and secure home and allows them to express their childish personalities.
        • Changing family structure - Parsons believes the family structure changes to fit the needs f society.
          • Pre-industrial society extended families were the workforce on agricultural lands.
            • Nuclear families slowly arrived as they were better for the industry.
              • Industry needed a geographical workforce which is easier for nuclear families.
              • A socially mobile workforce was needed as well which was easier for nuclear families as roles ascribed could be beaten by achieved roles.
        • Parsons argued that as society changes so does the family, they lose their roles. This is called structural differentiation - eg Welfare state.
      • CRITICISMS: criticised for being outdated and optimistic about family life.
        • Some societies don't have traditional families.
        • It ignores the darkside of family life e.g. domestic abuse
        • Feminist view the current society as patriarchal and sexist
        • Postmodernists argue there are many viable alternatives to nuclear families being the best family.
        • Ignores the evidence of non-dominance from extended family. Also the decline of nuclear family and family diversity.
    • What is the main thought by Marxists
      • Marx 1818-1883  and Engles 1820-1895 believed that power throughout society stemmed from wealth.
        • Those who owned the means of production (land, capital, machinery) formed a powerful ruling class.
          • They were able to exploit the subject class, therefore had to work for the ruling class
      • Marx believes there were several different ruling and subject classes.
        • In a capitalist society the ruling class (bourgeoisie) owned the factories, the working class (proletariats)
          • Were not paid their full value. The bourgeoisie kept profit for their selves.
        • The ruling class power derived from the means of production which they owned. This formed an economic base.
          • Seeing as the bourgeoisie owned the economic base they then owned the non-economic institutions of society this being religion, family, media and the government.
      • CRITICISMS
        • Zaretsky has been criticized for exaggerating the extent family is used as an escape from work as family can also be neglect, cruelty and violence.
        • Some families are anti-capitalist but still socialize their children into beliefs critical of the ruling class.
        • Feminists criticize Marxists as they neglected the exploitation of womn
        • Postmodernists criticize them for ignoring the variety of family types in todays society
        • Functionalists believe the Marxists ignore the beneficial functions of the family for society.
    • Feminist theories of the family
      • Basic Principles of Feminism
        • There is a fundamental division in society between men and women
        • That women to some extent are exploited by men.
        • The society is patriarchal. This mean male dominated. So society is run by males and not women.
        • They also say 'malestream' sociology, is written and produced for men. Their studies neglect females roles such as housewife.
      • Types of Feminists
      • Feminist Theories
        • Radical Feminist believe family plays a major role in the oppression of women.
          • Germaine Greer 2000 - argues even today women remain subservient to their husbands. Single women seem happier, this is reflected by a high divorce rate instigated by women.
        • Marxist Feminist believe that family benefits the capitalist system and in doing so exploits women.
          • Margaret Benston 1972 - wives are used as rear cheap labour, and hlp maintain their husbands as workers at no cost to employers.
          • Fran Ansley 1972 - believes that women suffer from the frustration caused by the  alienating work they do for capitalist.
        • Liberal Feminism - Jennifer Sommerville 200 believes women are still disadvantaged in families but criticize radical and Marxist feminists for failing to mention there has been progress.
          • Women now have much more choice about marriage, to take up a paid job or when to marry. There is greater responsibility within family and most women still value relationships with men.
    • The New Right
      • New Right are ideas from policies and political parties from Britain. These views influenced some policies created by Conservative government. Margaret Thatcher and John Major 1979-1997
        • New Right believe in free market capitalism, it believes the state should intervene as little as possible. Competition begins benefiting society and consumers as a whole.
      • New Right believe that Nuclear Family is the way forward in society
        • This is because it encourages self-reliance which helps decrease the state expenditure on Welfare. Also believe that it encourages shared moral values.
        • Unlike functionalists they believe that family is an unstable institution, leading it to an increase in social problems.
      • The New Right and policies.
        • 1988 Margaret Thatcher changes taxation that cohabiting couples could not claim more than married couples.
        • Abbots and Wallace 1992 - believe that the policy encouraged more people to live outside nuclear families and gave rights to those who weren't in need of them.
      • Criticisms
        • Rapoports 1989 saw increasing diversity as a good thing as it gives people greater freedom, to live in a style which best suits them.
        • Some sociologists believe New Right exaggerate the extent of diversity in families.
        • Feminists believe that the increase in divorce is beneficial for women who want to escape violent relationships
        • Postmodernists see the declining dominance of nuclear families as part of wider changes which are seen as desirable.
  • Criticisms of Radial, Marxists and Liberal Feminists
    • Radical Feminist believe family plays a major role in the oppression of women.
      • Germaine Greer 2000 - argues even today women remain subservient to their husbands. Single women seem happier, this is reflected by a high divorce rate instigated by women.
    • Liberal Feminism - Jennifer Sommerville 200 believes women are still disadvantaged in families but criticize radical and Marxist feminists for failing to mention there has been progress.
      • Women now have much more choice about marriage, to take up a paid job or when to marry. There is greater responsibility within family and most women still value relationships with men.
    • Marxist Feminist believe that family benefits the capitalist system and in doing so exploits women.
      • Margaret Benston 1972 - wives are used as rear cheap labour, and hlp maintain their husbands as workers at no cost to employers.
      • Fran Ansley 1972 - believes that women suffer from the frustration caused by the  alienating work they do for capitalist.
    • Exaggerating exploitation of women within the family.
    • Largely failing to mention the increasing equality between men and women
    • Not taking account of gender, age or ethnic differences.
    • ignoring examples when men are sufferers of abuse in families.

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