Functionalist view of the family

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  • Created by: Grace
  • Created on: 17-05-12 17:18

Functionalism is a macro (structural)theory, this means it looks at society as a whole, and how institutions shape the individual. Funtionalism is also a consensus theory which means they believe different parts of society work together to maintain social order.

Functionalists see the nuclear family as the ideal family form and see other family structures (Family diversity) as detrimental to society.

Murdock (1949)

Murdoch's definition of the nuclear family: "The nuclear family includes adults of both sexes, at least two of whom maintain a socially approved sexual relationship, and have one or more children, own or adopted"                                                         Murdoch carried out a study of over 250 societies and  concluded the nuclear family existed is universal, and perform four basic functions applicable to to all societies:      

1)Sexual- People are sexually fulfilled by their parteners which are monogamous, keeping society stable.                        

2)Reproductive-essential for the continuation of society and survival of the human race.

3)Educational- essential for passing on the society's culture to the next generation (i.e. primary socialisation)          

4)Economic- in the past the family was a unit of production, it is now a unit of consumption                         

Criticisms: Morgan(1975) points out that Murdock presents the family as a totally harmonious instuitution, he ignores the dark side of




amazing, thanks! xo



though isn't it murdock instead of murdoch?

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