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Functionalism is a structuralist theory; this means that the social structure or
organization of society is seen as more important than the individual. This theory is
sometimes seen as `top-down' as it looks at society rather than the individuals within it.
Functionalism sees society as more important because the…

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Talcott Parsons (1902-1979) was a key functionalist thinker; he believed that socialization
is the key to understanding human behaviour patterns. Parsons believed that the role of
social institutions, such as family, education, religion and the media, is to ensure passing
on of socially acceptable patterns of behaviour.
Social institutions do…

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Robert Merton viewed society having interrelated parts that contribute to the
functioning of the whole system. Merton contributed to the theory of functionalism; he
believed that functionalism was made up of two basic factors:

Interdependent parts: this is society's institutions (religion, education, politics, etc.)
that are all linked together. A…

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The functionalist approach sees families as being an important part of society; this is
because families are responsible for shaping us, as individuals, and determining our
experiences and life chances.

Functionalism also sees families as an important part of society because they
function for the greater good of society. This…

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but in return they are paid much less than they deserve; whereas, the upper class benefit
from the way in which the society operates.

Marxism is also a structuralist theory, like functionalism ­ it sees the individual as less
important than society. Marxism sees the economic organisation of societies as…

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Karl Marx (1818 ­ 1883)

Karl Marx put forward the idea that the society in which we are living is capitalists as it is
divided into two main classes ­ the ruling class (bourgeoisie) and the working class
(proletariat). The bourgeoisie make the proletariat do hard labour in return for…

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Marxism show the family in a more realistic view compared to functionalism which
does not show the dark sides of families.

Marxism has been supported by theoretical research.

Marxism highlights the family in a significant way.


Marxism stereotypes people as not being aware of their `real identity';…

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Liberal feminists

Liberal feminists are optimistic about the idea of equality between men and women.
They believe that there has been a steady improvement in the position of women, as
old-fashioned attitudes break down, more girls are doing well in education and more
women have successful careers.


Marxist-feminist argue…

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Key terms:
Patriarchy ­ dominated by men

Gender ­ the behaviour that culture associates with femininity and masculinity

Equality ­ the state at which both men and women are treated the same

Gender quake ­ the radical change in attitudes, especially towards education and
work, experienced by younger women compared…


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