Functionalism and the Family

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  • Murdock
    • Sexual function = Stable sexual relationships for adults and controls sexual adults of members
    • The nuclear family has 4 functions: sexual, reproduction, economical and socialisation
    • Studied 250 societies and fond some form of nuclear family which existed in all known societies
    • Functionalism and the Family
      • Parsons
        • The family performs 2 functions
          • Primary socialisation = teaching norms and values, this usually happens in the family
          • Stabilisation of adult personalities = families are used for comfort and support
        • Instrumental role = men, breadwinners
        • Expressive role = women, meet emotional needs and primary socialisation
      • Yung and Wilmott
        • Couples are more equal and both have a say in things that happen
        • Symmetrical family = similar roles, men do more domestic women go out to paid work. This happened due to social change
      • Bott
        • Segregated conjugal roles
          • Couples have separate roles
          • Men = breadwinners
          • Women = carers
        • Joint conjugal roles
          • Tasks are shared between men and women
          • Shared domestic and emotional roles
          • Roles within the home are symmetrical
      • Hochschild (Triple Shift)
        • Emotional work
        • Housework
        • Paid work
      • Evaluation
        • 'Rose-tinted'
        • Murdock ignores conflict
        • Gough - studied families in South India and found they had multiple sexual partners
        • Nuclear family is not universal and changes depending on culture
        • Feminism - family oppresses women
        • Ann Oakley - family still unequal, only 15% of households have high level of male participation and 25% in childcare
    • Reproduction function = Provides society with new members
    • Economical function = Provides resources for family members to support them
    • Socialisation function = Teaching of norms and values  to keep society going


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