SOCIOLOGICAL APPROACHES TO THE FAMILY

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MARXIST APPROACH TO THE FAMILY

Marxists see the family as NEGATIVE for society.        

Marxists are critical of the family and society. They believe society is based on a conflict between the classes – working class and ruling class. The family helps to maintain class differences in society as the rich can afford to give their children a better start in life than the poor, e.g. pay for a better education, get them a good job either in their own business or their friends businesses. Marxists believe the family socialises the working class to accept that it is fair that the classes are unequal. 

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FUNCTIONALIST APPROACH TO THE FAMILY

Functionalists see the family as POSITIVE for society.

They believe that the nuclear family is a positive institution that is beneficial to society - they look at the functions that the nuclear family performs for the good of society as a whole. These functions include:

• Reproduction - the family has children which means the human race keeps going  

• Primary socialisation - the family teaches children norms (acceptable behaviour) and values (right and wrong)  

• Economic support – The family gives financial support, it feeds and provides shelter for it’s members .

Functionalists compare society to the human body.

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NEW RIGHT APPROACH TO THE FAMILY

The New Right see the family as NEGATIVE for society if it is not a nuclear family.

They have similar views to Functionalists. They believe that the nuclear family is very important to society. They say that children from nuclear families:

• Do better at school

• Get better jobs

• Do not turn to crime

The New Right believe that Single parents and same sex couples are bad for society.

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FEMINIST APPROACH TO THE FAMILY

Feminists see the family as NEGATIVE for society.

Feminists believe the family is bad for women. Girls and boys learn their different gender roles within the family through socialisation. Girls copy their mothers, doing housework, whilst boys copy their fathers, doing DIY. They then learn that this is how male and female roles should be. Feminists believe that the family is male dominated – the term for this is patriarchal. 

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