Fuctionalism Topic 1

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Topic One: Functions of the Family
Functionalism
T h i
s
ha ndou t
w i
ll
hel
p
you an swer t
he fo l
lowing
24 ma rk
qu esti
o n
Assess the contribution of functionalism to our understanding of
families and households (24 Marks)
(It can also be used in evaluation for other perspectives on the family
questions)
F u n cti
o nali
s ts
see soci
ety as
ma de up
o f
a
range of
sub sys tems (famil
y
e d u cation etc).
Functi
o nal
ists dr
aw
the a nalogy
to
the huma n
b od y t
he organs
f unc t
ion to
th e wel
l bei
ng of the
w h ole,
a s
d o
soci
ety's
s ub systems .
Fami l
y i
s a
p a rticularl
y imp ort
ant
sub
sy stem.
Murdock's Four Essential Family Functions (importance of nuclear
family)
1/: Satisfaction of sex drive
With the same partner, preventing social disruption caused by a
sexual freeforall
2/: Reproduction of next generation
Without which society could not continue
3/: Meeting its members' economic needs
Such as food, shelter etc.
4/: Socialisation of the young
Into society's shared norms and values
Criticisms of Murdock's Family Functions
Other institutions
­ It is very possible that other institutions can carry out these
functions
Murdock's response al
tho ugh o ther
in st
it
uti
ons migh t
me et
th es e needs
it
i
s
t he she er
p rac ti
cali
ty
of
the n ucl
ea r
f
ami l
y t
hat
ma kes i
t uni
v ersal
Rose Tinted view of family
­ The consensus view doesn't account for conflict and
exploitation within the family
Feminists s ee t
he f
a mi
ly
a s
ser vi
n g
the
nee ds of
me n a nd oppressi
ng
w ome n
Marxists a r
gu e
that the
fami ly
me ets
the
nee ds of
ca pi
ta l
i s m,
not
those
o f
soc i
e ty
as a whole

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We will look at these in more detail later)
Parsons: Functional Fit (How the nuclear family FITS society)
P arso n'
s reco g ni sed t
h e
functi
o ns of
the f
amily
are changi
ng.
H e
suggests
the
r i
se of
modern nuclear family. This
has come
abo ut
as
Brit
ain
b egan t
o
in dustr
iali
se.…read more

Page 3

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The f
a mily
rel
ieves t
h e pre ss ures of
ever
yda y
li
fe a nd r
ech arges
th e ba t
ter
ies
o f
indi
viduals.…read more

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