Notes on Feminist Approach to the Nuclear Family

Notes for Topic 1 Feminsm perspective on the Nuclear Family

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Topic One
Feminist Perspectives on the Family
This handout will help you answer the following 24 marks exam questions:
Assess the Feminist perspectives on the family (24 marks)
(It can also be used in AO2 evaluation for Marxism and Functionalism)
Like Marxists feminists take a
critical view of the family. They
argue that it oppresses women.
Feminism is however a broad
term that covers several types
Each of these approaches the
family in a different way.
Liberal Feminists
Liberal feminists are concerned with campaigning against sex discrimination
and for equal rights and opportunities for women (equal pay and an end to
employment discrimination)
Liberal feminists see no need for a political or social revolution, as do
other feminists rather they see social change as evolutionary.
They follow a `March of Progress' view point of the family.
Social changes that have improved the position for women in the family
· Men do more in the home now than in the past:
­ (This claim is the subject of much debate within sociology, with
many other feminists disputing the idea that equality exists)
· Men are more involved with childcare:
­ There is a greater emphasis on active fatherhood and some men
are spending more time at home with their families.
These social changes have resulted in changes in the socialisation process. E.g.
Parents now have similar aspirations for both children
AO2 Liberal Feminist Viewpoint AO2
· It provides a cosy view of family life (white middle class professional
women America)
· Studies show that women still do the majority domestic labour and
conjugal roles

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It doesn't challenge the underlying causes of women's oppression.
Changes in laws and attitudes will not be enough.
Marxist Feminists
Marxist feminists argue:
· The main cause of women's oppression is not men, BUT CAPITALISM.
· Women's oppression performs several functions for capitalism.
Women reproduce the labour force:
· Through unpaid domestic labour, by socialising the next generation of
workers and maintaining and servicing the current one.…read more

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Women's oppression is a result of male domination not capitalism.
Radical Feminism
In response to Marxist feminism, radical feminists would say that it isn't
capitalism that exploits women but men.
Patriarchy ­
The system of male domination in society existed before capitalism. Men
have always controlled women and this would not change by establishing
In this sense, patriarchy rather than capitalism is the key barrier for
Men are the enemy: they are sources of women's oppression and exploitation.…read more

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