AS Sociology Revision

Note: Only covers theoretical approaches to the family and households, changing patterns of the family and demographic changes and its affects on the family. 

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: Jenny
  • Created on: 08-12-12 15:09
Preview of AS Sociology Revision

First 692 words of the document:

Theoretical approaches to families and households
Functionalist approach
Functionalists believe in value consensus ­ that society forms a shared view on the world. This is passed on
through the process of socialisation which enables children to integrate into society. In other words, the
effect that our family has on us shapes our identity. Functionalists therefore, look at the family in a very
positive light. They believe that the family help everything in society to run smoothly particularly with other
institutions such as schools because social solidarity has been maintained through the process of primary
George Murdock: - believes that the family is universal because every family in the world performs the same
key functions. These are reproductive which provides new members for the family, sexual because it
provides sexual gratifications for the spouses, economic because food and shelter is provided and
educational e.g. the primary socialisation of children.
However, there have been many criticisms of Murdock's theory for a number of reasons. Anyone outside of
the typical nuclear family is excluded, such as the extended family, gay/lesbian and single-parent families.
Also, cultural diversity exists and this alters the structure of the family depending on the society in which they
live in for example, in the Caribbean there are many matrifocal families. Diana Gittins says that it is not
possible to produce a definition of the family because family diversity exists. This gives people more
freedom to choose how they want to live and from this perspective, any household with intimate
relationships can be seen as a family.
Talcott Parsons:- claims that the family perform two irreducible functions;
Stabilization of adult personalities ­ the woman creates a loving and nurturing atmosphere for the husband
to return to after a long day at work. This enables him to relax because he can release his stress and tension.
Within this idea, Parsons is suggesting that the Male and Female of the family have specific roles. The
woman has the role of the caregiver because she takes care of the family which includes domestic chores.
The male is seen as the breadwinner because he earns the money that the family depend upon.
Primary socialization ­ children are taught societies shared norms and values which enables them to
cooperate with others and integrate into society.
This theory has also received a lot of criticism, particularly from feminists. They say that it patriarchal and
sexists to suggest that women are restricted to only one role as a caregiver. More importantly, this implies
that Parsons Theory is outdated because women now have more freedom to choose the type of job that
they want thanks to Anti-discrimination laws and the Equal pay act. This theory also suggests that women
are a victim of domestic abuse because the man releases his stress and tension from his exploited-daily
working life onto his wife and possibly even his children. Many people argue that not every family socializes
their children because they may fail to bring up their children properly and are therefore not acceptable role
Functionalist theories suggest that the family has become more socially isolated from extended kin and
more reliant on the welfare state. Parsons explains why this has occurred;
In pre-industrial society the extended family was the norm because they work on the land together. However,
the process of industrialisation forced the structure of the family to change because it required a more
socially mobile and geographical workforce that could leave their families and travel to where the work
needed them to be. This was difficult for the extended family to do because they had their statuses ascribed
which meant their role was assigned at birth. But the nuclear family were more streamlined and isolated e.g.
they were
not tied down to duties to their families. Furthermore they did not have an ascribed status. Instead they
had to achieve it.

Other pages in this set

Page 2

Preview of page 2

Here's a taster:

One criticism of this is that Parsons looks at the nuclear family too optimistically and ignores the negative
effects that they have on society e.g. Interactionists will argue that functionalists ignore the plight of the
individual within the family.
Ronal Flecture: - argues against those sociologists who say that the family's functions have been reduced or
lost. He says they have been supplemented and supported by the welfare state through, schools, hospitals
and welfare provisions e.g.…read more

Page 3

Preview of page 3

Here's a taster:

Feminist approach to the study of the family
Feminists believe that we live in a patriarchal world where women are exploited. Therefore they look at how
women suffer in a male dominated society and within the family.
Sylvia Walby said that patriarchy works through domestic labour, the traditional values that women are
bound to such as looking after the children which makes it difficult to get paid work.…read more

Page 4

Preview of page 4

Here's a taster:

Interactionist approach to the study of the family
Interactionists argue that social life is a continuous attempt to make sense and order of the world. They say
that reality is socially constructed e.g. we make our own reality within social groups because we strive to
achieve a view of the world similar to those around us.
They see the family as performing a valuable social function but their concern is with the meaning of family
life on the individual rather than its relationship with society.…read more

Page 5

Preview of page 5

Here's a taster:

Changing patterns of the family ­ Booklet 2
Marriage has declined over the years. Patricia Morgan says that this is down to a range of factors;
High divorce rates are putting people off marriage.
People are becoming more career minded so they are postponing marriage until they are ready.
More importantly, education is preventing people from getting married at a younger age because it
takes longer to achieve the necessary qualifications.…read more

Page 6

Preview of page 6

Here's a taster:

The office of national statistics said that cohabiting couples are the fastest growing family type in the UK.
Over 2.2 million couples are cohabiting with or without children. 1/3 of Teenagers are destined to cohabit in
comparison with only 1/10 of their grandparents.
Cohabitation is seen a long-term alternative to marriage because couples form a consensual union rather
than undergo legal registration. Marriage has lost its appeal due to the decline in social stigma of
secularisation and tradition.…read more

Page 7

Preview of page 7

Here's a taster:

The biggest reason for the increase in divorce is down to the divorce reform act of 1969 which meant that a
matrimonial offence had to be proven and this made it easier for couples to get out of an unhappy marriage.
Since 1911 when there was just 895 petitions for divorce the rate has risen dramatically because by 2008
there were 143, 000 divorces made.…read more

Page 8

Preview of page 8

Here's a taster:

Demographic changes and its effects on the family ­ booklet 3
The study of demography examines factors affecting the total size of the population in a country such as
birth and death rate (per thousand, per year), fertility rate and migration.
Birth Rate
There has been a steady decline in the number of births in England and Wales since 1900s e.g. in 2008 there
were 790 000 births in the UK compared with 1 093 000 in 1901 when the population was considerably
lower.…read more

Page 9

Preview of page 9

Here's a taster:

Uncertainty and the risk of relationship-break down is making people wary of
having too many children.
The death rate is the number of deaths per thousand of the population per year. The death rate has fallen
considerably in the UK since the 1900s e.g. it stood at 19 (per thousand people) in 1900s but dropped to 10
by 2007. One way to explain this is that the population has increased meaning that the death rate has fallen.…read more

Page 10

Preview of page 10

Here's a taster:

Ageing Population
The UK has produced an ageing population with a rising proportion of elderly and middle aged people and a
falling proportion of children and younger adults e.g. the percentage of population over 65 has increased
from 15 to 16% between 1984 and 2009.
Why is the population ageing?
The death rate is falling so people tend to survive more years after reaching adulthood, leading to a growing
number of elderly in the population.…read more


No comments have yet been made

Similar Sociology resources:

See all Sociology resources »See all resources »