Families and Households


Functionalist view of the family- 

According to Parsons, the most popular family type in a pre-industrial society was the extended family. This meant that the family had many members within it and they all were interconnected. They lived in rural areas and were very close-knit.The extended family had many functions as the instituions we are familiar with today were not around in the pre-industrial society, therefore the functions such as healthcare, justice, education and economic were all down to the extended family.It was very rare for anyone to leave the community due to the lack of transportation and the fact that people were responsible for carrying on the family trade (blacksmiths).  However, due to the rise of industrialisation, the extended family started the lose their functions and jobs became more widely available due to the need for factory workers. This meant that members of the extended family would break away as they had better job opportunities and were not able to take the whole of their family with them. (this is known as urbanisation caused by geographical mobility) The individual would take their immediate family which would consist of a partner and children. Institions took over the functions of the extended family and eventually that family type lost its relevance. Since then, the nuclear family has been the most dominant family type. As the family types changed, so did the roles between men and women within the family. Men and women developed stereotypical conjugal roles. The man developed the instrumental leader role meaning that he was the bread winner and acted as a disciplinary figure to the children. The woman acted as an 'Expressive leader' Although the extended family lost their functions, the nuclear family gained alternative functions that allow individuals to thrive and maintain social solidarity through the reproduction of norms and values. One function is primary socialisation of children meaning that the family teachers children basic norms and values needed in order to progress in society (i.e. manners) and the stabalisation of adult personalities. To explain this, Parsons produced his 'Warm bath thesis' this is the idea that the family acts as a warm bath, it soothes the family member from any worries they may have from societal struggles and…


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