Functionalist perspective on the family

  • They believe society is based on a value of consensus (a set of shared norms and values)
  • Society is a system made up of different parts e.g school and family that all depend on each other
  • They regard families as providing essential needs such as the need to socialise children 
  • They believe strongly that the nuclear family ( heterosexual, mongomous, segregated conjugal roles) is the most diserable type of family
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Murdock's Theory of the family

  • Murdock believes that the family provides four essential functions... 
  • 1. The stable satisfaction of the sex drive- this is done through the monogamous aspect of the traditional nuclear family
  • 2. Reproduction of the next generation- this is done through the heterosexual aspect of the traditional nuclear family 
  • 3. Socialisation of the young- Segregated conjugal roles means that children are given the 'correct' gender socialisation 
  • 4. Meeting its members economic needs- The male breadwinner is supposed to provide for the family economically whilst the mother stays at home as a housewife
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Parsons functional fit theory

  • The functions that a family forms will depend on the society it is found in
  • Function will also affect the shape of the family 
  • There are two types of family, the nuclear family (post industrial family) and the extended family (pre- industrial family)
  • In Parsons view the extended family started to give way to the nuclear family when britain began to industrialise
  • Parson sees industrial society as having two essential needs...

A geographical mobile workforce

  • The nuclear family is better for being able to move around different areas of the world as industries spring up and decline. This is becuase the nuclear family is more 'compact'

A socially mobile workforce

  • In the extended family, a father will always have a higher ascribed status than his son
  • The solution is therefore for the son to move out of home and start his own nuclear family to allow him to move along in social status
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Loss of functions

  • The pre-industrial family was a multi functional unit and was more self sufficient 
  • However as society has industrialised, according to parson, the family has lost some of its functions
  • e.g the family ceases to be a unit of both consumption and production, it is now just a unit of consumption
  • It has lost its functions to other institutions such as school or religion
  • The loss of these functions has highlighted what are called the families 'irreducible functions'

1. The primary socialisation of children to equip them with basic skills and societies values

2. Stabilisation of adult personalities. The family is a place where adults can relax and release tension before going off to work

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