Functionalist view on the Family


Functionalists View on The Family

What is Functionalism?

Functionalism is a structuralist theory; they see society like a human body where every part of society helps to keep society going and each part of society are interdependent.

Evolution of the Family

PARSONS argued that he pre-industrial society was focused on the extended family (not uncommon to work and live with cousins and meant that family groups could trade, such as food and clothing).  Roles in these families were always based on ascription, not achievement.


·         Meant that the economy demanded a more geographically mobile workforce. Nuclear families were formed because people moved away their extended kin in order to take advantage of job opportunities.

·         Geographical Mobility- people were isolated from their relatives and not as reliant on extended family as before.

·         Specialized Agencies took over many functions of the family e.g. families could now buy food and clothes mass produced by factories.

·         New nuclear family provided the husband and wife with clear social roles. Wife=Expressive Leader (takes care of children and provides emotional support), Husband=Instrumental Leader (bread winner and provides protection).

Ø  PARSONS CONCLUDED THAT… The nuclear family is the only family that can provide the achievement orientated and geographically mobile workforce needed by modern industrial economies.

Criticisms of Parsons:

Is Parson’s too simplistic? For instance, industrialization may develop differently in…


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