Functionalism and the Family Basics Table

A basic table splitting functionalism into the essential and how it relates to the family

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Basics · based on shared norms and values (value
· society as a structure with interrelated parts
('organs' that keep the 'body' alive)
· prominent in the 40s and 50s, on the
decline since the 60s
· kept harmonious, all times of conflict exist
to help return to a state of smooth sailing
Key People · Durkheim
· Parsons
· Murdock
...and the family · nuclear family prevalent
· equally useful to both individuals and
society as a whole
· Murdock: inevitable and universal to
societies (functional fit idea)
· 4 BASIC functions according to him:
stabilisation of adult sex drives
method of reproduction
economic unit
teaches norms and values
· Parsons: 2 BASIC and IRREDUCIBLE
primary socialisation
stabilisation of adult personalities
Critique · Idealising the family ignore the dark side
of the family such as domestic violence and
child abuse
· ignore class differences, exploitation of
women, and family diversity
· Parsons view as sexist as he sees the
mother/wife as the main caregiver and giver
of emotional support


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