The Functionalist Perspective on the Family
- Based on value consensus.
- Society is a system made up of different parts - family, education system & economy. Each is vital.
Peter Murdock (1949): 4 MAIN FUNCTIONS OF THE FAMILY.
- Stable satisfaction of the sex drive: avoiding a sexual free-for-all
- Reproduction of the next generation: to continue society.
- Socialisation of the young: teaching societies shared norms & values
- Economic needs: providing people food and shelter.
- Other institutions could perform these functions
- Feminists: see family as serving needs of men & oppressing women.
- Marxists: see family as serving needs of capitalism not family members or society as a whole.
The Functionalist Perspective on the Family (2)
Parsons (1955): 'Functional Fit' Theory
- Functions family performs depends on the society its found in.
- Nuclear Family & Extended Family
- Nuclear - fits needs of modern industrial society
- Extended - fits needs of pre-industrial society.
- Famiy changed along with industrialisation
- TWO ESSENTIAL NEEDS OF TODAYS SOCIETY
- 1) A geographically mobile workforce: people need to move to where the jobs are.
- 2) A socially mobile workforce: talented people able to win promotion even if they are from poor backgrounds.
Loss of Functions: Parsons
- Pre-industrial family was multi-functional. After industrialisation, family lost functions because of other institutions e.g. schools & health service.
- Parsons says that modern family performs only 2 essential functions now: Primary Socialisation of Children (providing societys values & norms) & Stabilisation of Adult Personalities (a place where adults can relax).
The Functionalist Perspective on the Family (3)
Evidence Against Parsons' claim of the functional fit
- Young & Willmott (1973) - pre-industrial family was infact nuclear.
- Peter Laslett (1972) study of English Households between 1564 & 1821 were almost always nuclear.
- Young & Willmott - a 'mum-centred' working-class extended family with mother & daughters helping each other.
- Young & Willmott argue that from about 1900, nuclear family emerged as a result of social changes. However, extended family has not disappeared.
The Marxist Perspective on the Family
- Society based on unequal conflict between 2 social classes:
- Capitalist Class
- Working Class
- All societies institutions maintain this conflict.
Family fulfills capitalism through these functions:
- Inheritance of Property: keeping wealth within the family. Engels' view is that monogamy became essential & it brought female sexuality under male control.
- Ideological Functions: persuading people to accept it as fair, natural or unchangeable. Socialising children to idea of a hierarchy in preparation of work.
- A Unit of Consumption: 'Keeping up with the Jonese', children for 'pester power' for consumerism.
- Marxists assume nuclear family is dominant. Ignores societys diversity.
- Feminists: too much emphasis on social class & capitalism.
- Functionalists: ignore benefits of family such as intimacy & mutual support.
Feminist Perspectives on the Family
Liberal Feminism: March of Progress View
- Womens oppression is gradually being overcome
- We're moving towards greater equality.
- CRITIQUE: fail to challenge causes of womens oppression.
Marxist Feminism: Capitalism Oppresses women, not men.
- Women produce the labour force
- Women absorb anger. Ansley (1972): wives are 'takers of ****'
- Women as a reserve army for cheap labour e.g. during war.
Radical Feminism: Division in society is between men & women
- Men are the enemy
- Family & Marriage are key institutions for oppression.
- CRITIQUE: fail to recognise that womens position has improved.
Feminist Perspectives on the Family (2)
Difference Feminism: Womens experiences are different
- All have different experiences of the family.
- Not the same for all.
- CRITIQUE: Neglects fact that women in fact, do share many of the same experiences e.g. low pay, domestic violence & sexual assult.
CRITICISMS OF PERSPECTIVES ON THE FAMILY
1) They all assume that the traditional nuclear family is the dominant type.
2) They are all structural theories (in society to perform a function)