Family Revision Notes (Demography and Social policies)

  • Created by: Mahima
  • Created on: 01-01-18 16:54

How do functionalists see society?

They see society as harmonious and consensus (shared values), and free from conflict. The state act with interest of society as a whole and its social policies which benefited everyone. Functionalists view policies helping families to perform functions effectively. E.g. Fletcher (1966) argued the introduction of health, education, and housing policies has led to the development of the welfare state, which has helped the family function well. The existence of the National Health Service means with the help of doctors, medicines and hospitals, families can look after sick family members.


1. Families provide emotional support, primary socialisation and financially support.

2. The state can offer emotional support by setting up centres where family members can go to for support. Another policy which can be made to improve primary socialisation is provide children with additional classes on norms and values which make good citizens for the future.

What are the two main criticisms of the functionalist view of social policy in relation to the family?

· Assume all family members of the family benefit equally from social policies – feminists argue policies often benefit men

· Assumes there is a ‘march of progress’ with social policies – Marxists argue policies can reverse and undo the progress made before (e.g. cutting benefits for poor families)

What is meant by the following terms?

1)  Surveillance (Foucault) – observing and monitoring

2)  The policing of families – professionals, such as social workers, health visitors and doctors’ use their knowledge to control and change families. They surveillance families.

In what way does Donzelot’s view of the effect of policy on family life differ from the     functionalists’ view?

Functionalists view state policies to have a positive impact on families, however Donzelot has a conflict view of society as he sees policies as a form of state power and control over families. He claims professionals use their knowledge to shape families, and view poor families as a ‘problem’ which need to be improved. Donzelot has rejected the functionalist march of progress view that policies and the professionals who help create a better or humane society.

1. Describe the roles of the adults in the New Right view of the ‘traditional’ nuclear family.  How does their view compare to the functionalists’?

They believe the adults should be married, heterosexual couples, with division of labour between male breadwinner and female homemaker. They view this family type as naturally self-reliant who are capable of caring and providing for all its members. Functionalists have similar views as they believe the nuclear family is the best family type as they can carry out the functions needed to make sure the family runs smoothly.

2. Give three examples of policies that the New Right see as threatening the conventional family and producing social problems. (Brenda Almond 2006)

-  Laws made to access divorce easier undermines the value of marriage as a lifelong commitment

- Introduction of the…




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