Sociology Revision Cards

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Families & Households

  • A family is people who live together who are related
    - most commonly a kinship (related by blood) e.g. children, parents
    - may also be non-kinship (not related by blood) e.g. step parents, stepchildren, inlaws
  • A house hold is peple who live together but may not neccessarily be related 

  • Families make up the majority of households but there are other types - such as students/friends living together.  
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Types of Family

Nuclear Families

  • 2 generations
  • Married heterosexual couple
  • Dependant children 

Extended Families

  • 3 or more generations living together/close by
  • Frequent contact between grandparents/grandchildren/aunts/uncles/cousins

Lone Parent Families

  • One single parent with dependant children

Reconsituted Families

  • Step families 
  • 2 previous families brought together by married/cohabition
  • At least one of the couple have dependant children from the previous relationship
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Consensus theory

  • See every institution in society as essential for smooth running of society
  • The family is the most important institution in society
  • Family is a positive thing 
  • Functionalists believe that women should stay at home and do the housework and raise children and men are the breadwinners and are the ones who should go out to work


  • Looked at 250 different societies and found that the nuclear family was universal
  • He came up with the theory that the family peforms 4 basic functions:
    1) Sexual - the family provides a stable sexual relationship for adults
    2) Reproductive - the family reproduces to produce the next generation
    3) Economic - the family provides resources and support for all it's members
    4) Educational - the family teaches children the norms and values of society 
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  • Parsons thought the family has 4 vital functions:
    1) Primary socialisation - teaching children the norms and values of their society 
    2) Stabilisation of adult personalities - the family provides a stable and comforting environment, as well as providing emotional support and a sanctuary from everyday life


  • Functionalists are critised for ignoring the dark side of the family
    - child abuse and domestic violence
  • Ignores conflict within the families 
    - not everyone gets on with their family

  • Promotes the exploitation of women and doesnt give them a choice 
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  • Marxists also see the family as peforming essential roles in society 
    - however marxists argue this is for the benefit of capatalism
  • Marxists think the family only benefits the ruling class and is a disadvantage to the working class.
  • Family meets the needs of a capatalist society


  • Family was a good thing in the past - males knew who his children were in order to pass on inheritence to his children.
  • Family is now a unit of consumption 
    - family buys goods for more than it cost the manafacturer to produce them                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             


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  • Familty is a place for the working man to escape the harshness of capatalism 
    - man takes the stresses of work out on his wife


  • Marxists are critised for being too negative 
  • Completely focused on the benefits to the economy
    -ignores benefits to the individual
  •  Assumes males are the breadwinner and females are housewives
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  • Feminists believe the family exploits and oppresses women 
  • Family helps to maintain the existing social order
    -patriachy - combination of systems, ideologies and cultural practises - all    ensure that men have power

  • Family supports and reproduces inequalities 

  • Women are oppressed - socialised to be dependant on men

  • Ideology about mens roles and womens roles in the family 
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Types of Feminists

Marxist Feminists 

  • Explotiation of women is essential to success of capatalism

  • Men are paid for work outside the home but women are not paid for work in the home
    - if women were paid for work in the home it would damage    capatalism greatly - Benston

Radical Feminists

  • Exploitation of women is because of the domination of men in society 

  • Men opress women

  • Family is a patriachal institution  
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Types of Feminists

Liberal Feminists 

  • Cultural norms and values are reinforced by the family  

  • Liberal feminists believe that social change is possible

  • They try to change society by using policies and laws  


  • Feminists portray women as too passive 
    - shows women as unable to make changes and how to improve their situation 

  • Doesn't acknowledge that power may be shared within a family

  •  Doesn't consider households in society that don't include a man

  • Doesn't point out that women from different ethnic backgrounds have different life experiences 
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The New Right

  • New Right think the nuclear family is the bedrock of society 
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Thank you so much for these! 

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