Sociological theories

Marxists, Feminists, Functionalists, Interactionalist and Post Modernism... Just gives the basics on them and stuff... Not AQA exam board... Was WJEC.... But could still be relevant?

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  • Created by: alliebob
  • Created on: 13-04-11 15:29
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The happy theory! Sociologists: Emile Durkhelm and Talcott Parsons. Functionalist view the family as
something that helps contribute to society by offering primary socialisation to their kids. Also, the family
is seen as an agency of social control.
Talcott Parsons two irreducible functions of the family:
1. Primary socialisation ­ teaches children to accept norms and values
2. Stabilisation of adult personalities ­ emotional support
Murdock said the family is universal as it performs essential functions for society. There are 4 of these
1. Sexual ­ provides stability for adults
2. Reproductive ­ provides new members of society
3. Economic ­ family provides for members
4. Educational ­ socialises young into norms and values
The family correspondingly adapts and evolves. This is known as structural differentiation ­ family takes
on different structure to suit the needs of society.
The warm bath theory ­ Parsons argued that the family is a place we return to for warmth and security.
He advocates traditional roles with men, who are the breadwinners, and women as homemaker and
caregiver. Women=inside/men=outside.
Criticisms of functionalism:
Idealises the nuclear family
Ignores conflict and abuse ­ dark side of the family
Ignores gender inequality ­ even support it in some ways with domestic roles for women while
men are breadwinners.
Ignores divorce rates increasing
And ignores growing family diversity ­ same sex etc.
Overall, a functionalist believes everything works together and well and everyone gets on happily. It
ignores unhappiness and instead says everyone has their own part to play in society.
Links to functionalism: THE NEW RIGHT.
They also focus on the nuclear family been the ideal type of family which is the stabilising feature of
modern life. The nuclear family apparently promotes decency, manners, respect etc. An example of the
New Right thinkers is the conservative party.

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The New Right believes the nuclear family is been undermined by divorce (which has become too easy)
and welfare benefits (too generous.) New Right thinking has had a large effect on social policies ­
especially when it comes to benefits as it has made them harder to get.
The New Right fails to acknowledge uneven relationships ­ exploitation of women.
The main sociologist involved with Marxism is: Karl Marx.…read more

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Links to feminism: MARXIST FEMINISTS
The family with its exploitation of women serves the needs and perpetuates capitalism. Examples of
Marxist feminists:
1.Benston - family responsibilities make male workers less likely to strike.
2. Ansley - emotional support in family stabilises male workers -makes them less likely to take
their frustrations out on the system.
3. Feeley - The family values and teaches obedience - children learn to accept hierarchy and their
position within it.…read more

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Cultural homogenization ­ cultures aren't as separate as they used to be. A lot of places are
becoming westernized.
2. Diversity ­ can do whatever you want i.e. marry someone ­ now you can divorce. Means we now
have a large amount of choice.
3.…read more

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They also look at individuals within society ­ not just society by itself. For example, we look at trees
within a forest... we take in the details.
Erving Goffman: Dramaturgical Theory
Goffman argued that people are like actors in a play
We perform roles, we use props, we learn our lines etc
We may play more than one role at a time
What props would we use if we were playing the role of an interviewee?
1. Dress nicely
2. Research and rehearse
3.…read more


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