Functionalists view of the family

Families and Households unit. Looks at the functionalist perspective includes introduction Murdock Parsons: Socialisation of children and stabilisation of adult personalities and criticisms.

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  • Created by: Tara
  • Created on: 11-12-11 21:03

Introduction to functionalist view

  • Emphasises integration and harmony between the different pats of society.
  • Family seen as a vital organ in maintaining the body of society.
  • Interested in the contribution the family makes in satisfying the basic needs of society.
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Argues there are four main functions of th family:

  • Sexual - sexuality expressed in socially approved context
  • Reproduction - family provides stability for producing and raising children.
  • Socialisation - family responsible for primary socialisation of children  teaching them values and behaviours acceptable to society.
  • Economic - family provides food and shelter.

Murdock regards four functions as necessary in any society.

Suggests nuclear family is typical form for carrying functions out.

However it must be considered that there is an increase in other forms of family.

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Argues there are two basic functions of the family, found in every society:

Primary Socialisation:

  • Learning and internalisation of society's culture.
  • Society would cease to exist if the new generation weren't socialised into accepting existing norms.
  • Socialisation in the family is so powerful, society's culture becomes part of the individual's personality.
  • Families ae like factories producing personalities.

Stabilisation of human personalities:

  • Industrial societies produce need for work, money and materials adding pressure to achieve which threatens destablisation of family.
  • Family helps stabilise personalities by sexual division of labour.
  • Women have an expressive role, providing emotional support.
  • Men carry out instrumental role as breadwinner. More stressful, rely on the woman's role.
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  • Downplays conflict: illustrates an ideal picture of the family, seems to disregard darker side of the family.
  • Out of date: Parsons' view of sexual division of labour is old-fashioned.Held true in the 1950s however changes in society mean changes in the family.
  • Ignores the exploitation of women: women suffer from sexual division of labour. Women's triple shift shows inequality between the male and female.
  • Ignore harmful effects of family: Leach asserts isolation of privatised nuclear family leads to emotional stress. Family members expect too much from one another generating conflict
  • Cooper argues family can be destructive. Laing sees family as one of the factors causing mental illness such as schizophrenia. Regard family as damaging to individual development.
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