Sociological perspectives on family

Functionalist perspective

Society is based on a value consensous, which keeps all institutions, and sub-systems together

Murdock stated 4 functions of the family
1.) Stabilisation of sex drive
2.) Reproduction of the next generation
3.) Socialisation of the young
4.) Meeting members economic needs

(Parsons functional fit theory states that family is the most pratical institution thats why it exists in all societies)
Recently family underwent a structual differentiation -> specialist institutions take over families roles . eg. school

Family structures reflect changes in the society, which requires:
1.) Geographically mobile workforce
2.) Socially mobile workforce                                            Modern nuclear famililies have 2 main functions:

                                        1. Primary socialisation of the young            2.  Warm bath theory 

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Marxist perspective

The Bourgeoisie exploit the proletarians, and they are effecivly 'wage slaves'. The dominsation of the rulling class is subordination.

  • believed that family is one of the instituions that serves the Bourgeoisises = prevent revolution

How does family help keep Capitalism?

  • Passing of the rulling class idelogy- told what to do from a young age  
  • Unit of consumption- people are taught to consume goods they don't need


  • Overestimate the widespread nature of a nuclear family
  • Feminists argue they ignore the importance of gender in the family '
  • Functionalists argue they ignore the positive functions of the family
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Feminist perspective

Family re-eterates sexism, and gender inequlity through domestic division of labour as well as domestic violence = see inequality as being socially constructed

Liberal fem: not revolutionary, but have made changes to society eg. Equal Pay Act
Marxists fem: believe that the system is rulled by male bourgeoisies, and at the bottom of this hierachy is a W/C female 
Radical fem: revolutionary who was to overthrow patriachy -> same sex households
Difference fem: every experience of a different female is different 

  • Family is not beneficial for a woman; she is not biologically made to be a mother necessarily 
  • Clear cut roles for men and women = favour men
  • Families are active at promoting gender roles 
  • Families are an important tool to keep patriachy in place
  • Males benefit, while the females loose out on it. 

CRITISMS of feminists 
Functionalists would argue they don't look at the positive aspects that the family serves for the w
2. Don't realise the recent changes which contributed to a more equal family structure

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