Theories of the family


  • Marxist feminists-

They argue the main cause of womens oppression is capitalism aswell as men.

Womem perform functions such as producing the labour force, 'takers of ****' so absorb anger, cheap labour

  • Liberal feminist-

They believe we are moving towards greater inequalitybut full depends on more reforms. 

March of progress view, they campaign against sex discrimination, equal pay.

  • Radical feminists-

All societies are founded on partiarchy, the key division of society is between men and women. Men=enemy, seperaism- women must organise to live independtly from men.

  • Difference feminists-

They argue we cannot generalise all womens experiences. Lesbian, heterosexual, black, white, mc, wc women all have very different experiences in the family.    Other feminists argue that these neglect the fact all women share many of the same experiences.

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  • Murdock- extended family

4 essential functions- stable satisfaction of the sex drive (with the same partner,

preventing the social disruption),

Reproduction of the next generation (so society can continue),

socialisation of the young, meeting its members economic needs (food and shelter).

  • Parson's- nuclear family (after industrial revolution)

Functional fit theory- Geographically mobile- need the nuclear family so it can move around easier if work changes.

Socially mobile- be able to move up and down the social ladder as we now work for what we want, achieved status.

2 main functions- 

Primary socialisation

Stabilisation of adult personalities (warm bath theory)

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  • Family is a unit of consumption-

Trends, keeping up with the Jones' and pester power. 

  • Inheritance of property-Engles-

pass business down through the bloodline so thats why the man must have a monogamous relationship- Dupont family

  • Ideological functions- 

Children are taught the marxist ideas such as hierachy and punishments. Family replicates the hierachy in society so the pupils won't question it.

  • Safety value- Zaretsky-

The father has to fall in line at work so at home he takes his anger out meaning the women at home are 'takers of ****'. This makes the Father have a place of authority and being top of the hierarchy so he won't act out at work and ruin the capitalist workplace.

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Personal life perspective

  • Social action theory 

They focus on the individuals perspective on how family is defined

Family can be more than blood, all relationships that give a benefit can be seen as family.

  • 5 non-blood related families-

Friend relationship 

Fictive kin (e.g mums friend)

Gay/lesbian chosen families

Relationship with dead relatives

Relationship with pets

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