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SCLY Families and Households [REVISION GUIDE]
Key definitions:
A family is usually a group of people related by marriage or blood.
A household is a person living alone or a group of people living together who
may or may not be related.…read more

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SCLY Families and Households [REVISION GUIDE]
Theories of the
From the specification:
The relationship of the family to the social structure and social change
Functionalist views: the importance of the nuclear family, the universality of the family,
changing functions, how the nuclear family `fits' modern society.
Marxist views: the family as part of the ideological state apparatus, as an agent of
social control.
Feminist views: patriarchy liberal, radical and Marxist feminism.…read more

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SCLY Families and Households [REVISION GUIDE]
Socialisation of the young into the needs of capitalism, not those of family
society's shared norms and values. members or society as a whole.
Meeting its members' economic
needs, such as shelter and food.…read more

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SCLY Families and Households [REVISION GUIDE]
Overall evaluation of functionalist theories
1. Functionalist analyses of the nuclear family tend to be based on middle class and
American versions of the family and they consequently neglect other influences such
as ethnicity, social class or religion. For example, Parsons does not consider the fact
that wealth or poverty may determine whether women stay at home to after children or
not. Since parsons wrote in the in the 1950s, many western societies, including the
UK, have become multicultural.…read more

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SCLY Families and Households [REVISION GUIDE]
Zaretsky: how the family benefits Evaluation
Zaretsky suggests that the family serves However, the liberal feminist Jennifer
capitalism by offering emotional security from Somerville argues that Zaretsky exaggerates
the oppressive world of work, thus allowing the importance of the family as a refuge from
such oppression to continue. However, in life in capitalist society.…read more

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SCLY Families and Households [REVISION GUIDE]
family primarily serves the interests of
men rather than capitalism.
By contrast, functionalists argue that
Marxists ignore the very real benefits
that the family provides for its
members, such as intimacy and
mutual support.
From an interpretivist point of view,
Marxists tend to neglect the meanings
families have for individuals and how
family members interpret family
relationships. For example, Marxists
ignore accounts of family life in which
some females suggest motherhood is
a fulfilling and rewarding experience.…read more

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SCLY Families and Households [REVISION GUIDE]
Marxist feminist Evaluation
Marxistfeminists suggest that the nuclear However, difference feminists would criticise
family meets the needs of capitalism for the Marxist feminists for assuming that all women
reproduction and maintenance of class and are exploited equally under capitalism. For
patriarchal inequality. It benefits the powerful example, lesbian and heterosexual women,
at the expense of the working class and black and white women, middle class and
women. working class women have very different
experiences from one another.…read more

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SCLY Families and Households [REVISION GUIDE]
Overall evaluation of Feminist theories
Feminist theories of the family have dated fairly badly, because they fail to account for
recent economic and social changes, such as the feminisation of the economy, the
educational success of young females, women's use of divorce and many women's
rejection of domestic labour as their unique responsibility.
Feminist also end to ignore the positive aspects of family life. Critics argue that
feminists are preoccupied with the negative side of family life.…read more

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SCLY Families and Households [REVISION GUIDE]
Social Policy
Although sociologists agree that social policy can have an important influence on family
life, they hold different views about what kinds of effects it has and whether these are
desirable. We shall examine a range of different sociological views or perspectives on
the impact of social policy on families.…read more


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