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Functionalism
Functionalists believe every institution in
society contributes to the smooth running of
society.
To functionalists the family is at the heart
of society.
Murdock (1949) claimed that the nuclear family
is so useful to society that it is inevitable and
universal (appearing everywhere)
(The New Right views of the family studied
last week are really neo-functionalism)…read more

Slide 3

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Murdock and the
Universality of the family
· Murdock claimed that he had found
evidence of nuclear families in the 250
different societies he studies
· The family is universal because it fullfills
the following essential functions for
society
· Sexual ­ controls sexuality, provides
stability for adults
· Reproductive ­ provides new members of
society.
· Economic ­ family provides for its
members.
· Educational ­ family socialises the young
into societies norms and values.…read more

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Talcott Parsons
Parsons (1902-79) ­ there are two basic irreducible
functions of the family
· Primary socialisation ­ through which children
learn to accept the value the norms and values of
society
·The stabilisation of adult personalities ­ the family
gives adults the emotional support necessary to
cope with the stresses of everyday life…read more

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Functionalism
The isolated and `private' nuclear family
The functionalist view suggests that the nuclear family
has become
Socially isolated from extended kin
More reliant on the Welfare State
Geographically separated from wider kin
The family is self-contained, inward looking with little
contact with neighbours and community. Home leisure
via TV, Video, Internet etc. have made the family
more home-centred .…read more

Slide 6

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Functionalism
Criticisms
1. Functionalists have been accused of
idealising the family.
2. Ignoring conflict and abuse within
families
3. Ignoring gender inequality within
families
4. Ignoring the rising divorce rates
5. Ignoring growing family diversity…read more

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