Functionalist - Parsons

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Parsons (1942):

  • Argues the functions that the family has to perform will affect its shape or structure.
  • Distinguished between two kinds of family structure:
    • The Nuclear Family (Parents and Dependant Children)
    • The Extended Family (Three Generations Living Under One Roof)
  • Argues that the particular structure and functions of a given type of family will 'fit' the needs of the society.
  • There are two types of society - modern industrial and traditional pre-industrial.
  • Argues that the nuclear family fits the needs of industrial society and the extended family fits the needs of pre-industrial society.
  • Modern industrial societies need a geographically and socially mobile workforce.

Geographically mobile workforce:

  • There is a need for the family to be geographically mobile according to Parsons.
  • People spent their whole life working in the same village or on the same farm in the past.
  • Job opportunities spring up and decline in modern industrial societies.
  • People are required to move to where…


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