Functions of the family

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The functionalist perspective on the family.

Functionalists see family as an important building block for society.

Murdock > family performs 4 functions
1) stable satisfaction of sex drive
2) reproduction of the next generation
3) socialisation of the young
4) meeting its members economic needs (food/shelter)

criticised by > feminists > family serves needs of men + oppresses women.
Marxist> meets needs of capitalists not family

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Parsons 'functional fit' theory

Parsons functional fit theory.
family can perform military, political, welfar or religious functions.
Nuclear family > parents / dependant children
Extended family > three generations under one roof
    The structure + functions will fit needs of society.

2 types of society.
Modern industrial society > nuclear family fits needs
Traditional pre-industrial society > extended family fits needs.

Industrial society has two needs.
1) geographically mobile workforce > easier for nuclear family
2) socially mobile workforce > meritocracy can occur, not ascribed status as was with pre-industrial society.  - most talented hardworking should have more important roles.

nuclear family relieves opportunity for conflict as in extended family and also structurally isolated people - meaning new families have no obligation to help extended kin.  

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Loss of functions

Pre - industrial family was a multi-functional Self sufficient unit. 
Unit of production / consumption.

Parsons says > when society becomes industrialised, family loses its functions.
- no longer a unit of production
- become unit of consumption
Nuclear family specialises in: 1) promary socialisation of children
2) stabilisation of adult personalities- home is a place to relax to meet efficience needs of economy.  

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Evidence against Parsons

Contradictions of functional fit theory. 
Young + Willmott > pre-industrial family was nuclear not extended as Parsons says.
> combination of late childbearing and short life expectancy meant grandparents were unlikely to be alive after first grandchild.

Anderson - Exchange theory states why working class had extended family in Mid 19th century. - because they needed kin to look after young.
> individual breaks off or maintains family for cost/ benifits.

Tamara Hareven > Concluded extended family, not nuclear as PArsons claims was structure best to meet demands of industrial society.  

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Marxist perspective on the family

Function of family is to benifit capitalist system. 
Functions family fulfills to capitalist.  
1) Inheritance of property
Marx call the early classes society ' Primitive comunism'
- this is where everyone owned the means of production.

Engels > calls this the 'promiscuous horde' - where there was no restriction on sex.
Increased wealth brought about the private property and a group of men who owned the means of production - which brought the 'patriarchal monogamous nuclear family'.
Engels says monogamy was essential to be sure child would legitimately inherit property.
 'world historical defeat of female sex!'- women were turned into instrument of reproducing children. 

2) Ideological functions - justifying inequality
Done by socialising children into hierarchy > this prepares them for working life.
Zaretsky > family performs function of offering a 'haven' from work + expoloitation.

3) A unit of consumption- Family aid profits for capitalists as they produce products to sell and also buy. - Advertisement + media target different consumers 'Pester Power'.  

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Criticisms to marxist perspective

Criticisms to Marixists perspective. 
They assume nuclear family is dominant which ignore family diversity.
- Feminists say they underestimate gender inequalities in family > serves men not capitalism.
- Functionalists say marxists ignore real benifits family provided its members with.  

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Feminist perspectives on family

Feminists perspectives. 
- It oppresses women ( domestic labour / violence )

1) liberal feminists - want equal rights ( eg pay)
They say womans oppression is being overcome.
Attitudes + laws changing
> full equality will depend onother changes / reforms
-Socialisation will need to change.
Similar view to march of progress- men are doing more domestic labour compared to past. Criticised by other feminists as it fails to tackle womens oppression.

2) Marixist Feminist - main cause to womans oppression isnt men but capitalism.
It performs functions: Women reproduce labour force.- through unpaid work, socialisation of children + maintaining and servicing of current workers.
Women absorb anger- Ansley says women are ' takers of ****'.- they soak up frustrations of exploitation from work>  this explains domestic violence on women. 
Women are a reserve army of cheap labour.  

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Radical feminist

3) Radical Feminist - All societies are based on patriarchy.
'Men are the enemy' source of oppression + expoloitation
- Family + marriage are the key institutions in patriarchal society.
- men benifit from sex, unpaid labour.
- dominate women through threat or actual domestic and sexual violence.

Patriarchal system needs to be overturned.
> only way to achieve separatism is for women to live independantly
Radicals want political lesbianism! - Matrilocal households.

Somerville- as a liberal feminist say Radicals fail to see how womans position has improved. > easier to divorce, better jobs, fertility control etc.
Hetrosexual attractions will keep the nuclear family.

4) Difference feminism 
> We cant generalise womens experience.
Criticisms of perspectives on family.
Assumption that nuclear family is dominant type. 
> ignores family diversity. 

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