The marxist perspective of the family

  • Capitalist society is based on the conflict between the two social classes, captialist and working
  • All societies institutions help to maintain class inequality and capitalism
  • The marxists have identified several functions that they say the family does to fulfill capitalist agenda...
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The inheritance of property

  • Who owns and controls societies productive forces is what determins the shape of social institutions
  • In modern society, this is the capitalist class
  • Marx called the earliest classless society 'primitive communism' in which nothing was privately owned and there was no class or restrictions on sexual relationships
  • As societies wealth increased private property emerged 
  • This change brought about the patriarchal monogamous nuclear family, this is because men now had to be certain of the paterinity of their children to ensure a legitimate inheritance
  • Engels- the rise of this family structure brings womens sexuality under male control and made her a mere insturment for the production of children
  • Marxists argue that only with the overthrow capitalism and private ownership will women achieve liberation
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Ideological Functions

  • The family today also performs key ideological functions for capitalist society
  • One way they do this is to socialise children into believing that hierarchy and patriarchy is inevitable
  • Parental power accustoms people to the idea that there will always be someone in charge of them
  • Eli Zaretsky-The family also performs the ideological function of providing an apparent safe haven from the harsh and exploitative capitalist world in which worker can be themselves
  • However they argue this is largely an illusion and that the family cannot actually meet its members needs
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A unit of consumption

  • Capitalism exploits its workers by selling the products of their labour for more than they are payed
  • The family plays an important role in generating profit as it is an important unit of consumption of capitalist goods
  • Adverts encourage families to consume 
  • The media targets children
  • Social stigma is attached to the consumption of outdated products
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Criticisms of the Marxist perspective

  • Assume that the nuclear family is the dominant family type in society and ignores the increase in family diversity
  • Feminists argues an overemphasis on class divide and conflict and that the real issue in society is gender inequality
  • The family primarily serves the need of men rather than capitalism
  • Functionalists argue that Marxists ignore the very real benefits that the family provides to its members
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