Functionalism - Families & Households revision

Functionalism revision for families and households, including:

  • Traditional structure of the Functionalist family
  • Emile Durkheim
  • George Murdock & criticisms
  • Talcott Parsons & criticisms
  • Criticisms of Functionalism
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AS Sociology 22nd April 2010
Families & Households Revision
Functionalism
Each institution in society functions harmoniously to create a society that runs smoothly.
The Family is one of these institutions.
EMILE DURKHEIM
Social Solidarity: Individuals are socialised into societies norms and values
through the family. This leads to a collective conscience whereby everybody
shares the same belief
Organic Analogy: Society is like the human body. If one social institution
ceases to function (e.g. the Family), then society dies.
TRADITIONAL STRUCTURE OF THE FUNCTIONALIST FAMILY
1. Nuclear: (Husband, wife, 2/3 children)
2. Patriarchal: (Male dominated ­ decision maker & breadwinner)
3. Instrumental/Expressive roles: Man ­ work, mother ­ housewife)
GEORGE MURDOCK
Family performs 4 basic functions universally:
1. Sexual: Married adults enjoy a healthy sex life ­ prevents affairs
2. Reproductive: Making the next generation of people for society
3. Economic: Providing food and shelter
4. Educational: Socialisation (teaching about norms and values)
GEORGE MURDOCK CRITICISMS
Doesn't consider other social institutions that could carry out the above functions
Presumes the nuclear family is always harmonious
His definition of family excludes SPF's and Gay families
Can't be universal (E.g. Ik, Kibbutz)
TALCOTT PARSONS
2 basic and irreducible functions of the family:
1. Primary Socialisation: A child's personality is moulded into the central values
of societies culture during the early years of childhood
Chris Cartwright

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AS Sociology 22nd April 2010
Families & Households Revision
2. Stabilisation of adult personalities: Warm bath theory ­ family soaks away
the stresses of everyday life
TALCOTT PARSONS CRITICISMS
Ignores the fact that Domestic Violence can occur in the family
His views are based on the American MiddleClass family
Fails to explore alternatives to the family
Ignores that children can actively shape their own personalities
CRITICISMS OF FUNCTIONALISM AS A WHOLE
1. Out of Date: Began over 150 years ago.…read more

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