Family & Household

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  • Created by: chelsea
  • Created on: 03-05-13 22:36


Functionalism is a theory which see's society as made up of various parts of which work together to keep society functioning properly.

- believe that the family provides the vital needs for society & therefore cannot function without it

-They emphasise the positive role of the family

-Functionalism is a structual theory and see's the individual as less important than society as a whole. 

-believes that the nuclear family is the universal and dominant structure as it meets the needs to industrial society.

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Parsons view on Family

-Family is beneficial to society, the functions it forms will depends on the needs of society 'Functional Fit' 

- Believes that the family evolved out of the industrial revolution.l 

-Industrialisation created 2 essential functions for the family;

> Primary socialisation of Children - taught norms and values of society. It is normally the family that helps mould the childs personality in order to fit the needs of society and maintain consensus.

> Stabilisation of adult personalities - "Warm Bath Theory"- Adults need emotional security given by partners in a marraige. Family is a source of stress relief and therefore help stabalize personalities. 

- Encourange Social Solidarity (sense of community) and integration (sense of belonging). 

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Criticisms of Parsons


- Laslett: Most pre-industrial households may have already been nuclear and not extended like Parsons claimed. 

-Young + Willmott: Claimed that the hardships of early industrial period led to a rise in 'mum-centred' working class extended family. 

- ignores dark side to family (domestic violence has no function in society) 

- ignores family diversity

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-Saw the family as performing 4 essential functions to meet the needs of society and its members

> Stable satisfaction of the sex drive: to maintain social order and stability and prevent social disruption.

>Reproduction of the next generation: To ensure that society has enough members to survive.

>Socialsation of the young: To ensure that society runs on a consensus, the young need to be taught shared norms and values

>meeting it's members economic needs: The family need to be able to support thier members by bringing home an income

-Argues that nuclear family is universal because of its 'sheer practicality' in performing these functions.

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Criticisms + Strengths of Murdock


- Other institutions and family types can carry out these functions.

- Feminists: The family serves the needs of men and oppresses women. 

-Marxists: The fanily meets the needs of the capitalists not the needs of family members and society as a whole. 

- has a 'rose-tinted' harmonious concensus view.


- Carried out significant research on 250 societies 

- Does recognise other family types but lists the practicality of the nuclear family.

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