Sociology family & households

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  • Created on: 05-04-12 11:29

The family and social structure (unit 2)

Functionalist’s theory of the family:

George Murdock- nuclear family ideal for

·         sexual function- preventing diversity e.g. gay marriages

·         reproduction- kids

·         economic function- unit of production

·         Educational function- stable environment for children to be socialised in.

Talcott parsons: nuclear family has become specialised. Industrial societies taking over family life e.g. care homes for old, schools for the young; nuclear family has 2 major functions now:

·         primary socialization- parents teach children norms and values of society

·         Stabilization of adult personalities- lack of kin, adults turn to each other for emotional support etc.

Nuclear family seen as the best as it was:

·         Geographically mobile- able to move to where the work was

·         Provided the best primary socialisation.

Women stay at home and clean with the kids while the men are the breadwinners, who go out to work. Family is seen beneficial for all family members.

Social order- society remaining stable.

·         Value consensus- learning the norms, values, rituals, traditions of society through primary and secondary socialisation (learning norms and values from school, media, church etc)

·         Specialised division of labour- range of skills specialised for a certain job.


·         Functionalists don’t account for the ‘dark side’ to some families-domestic abuse, infidelity, alcohol abuse etc.

·         Does not account for modern society and the increase of family diversity.

·         Feminists argue that parson’s gender roles are sexist (patriarchal) - deny the women opportunities to go out or work.

Marxist theory of the family

Karl Marx- Marxist’s see a conflict in society between the bourgeoisie (ruling class, capitalists), and the proletariat (working class and the rest of society).

Bourgeoisie own all the means of production so are able to pay the workers as little as possible, to make a lot of profit.

Marxist’s agree that the family is responsible for primary socialisation as well as providing emotional support for workers, consuming the products of capitalism and socialising children to accept the inequalities of capitalism.

False consciousness- people have been ‘brain washed’ in to believing that capitalism is fair through socialisation and the educational system, media etc.


·         Many sociologists argue that there is no ‘false consciousness’ as people know what social class they belong to and know what opportunities it gives them.

·         Too much emphasis on conflict and class conflict- there’s no class conflict now


·         Women are exploited by men

·         Society is patriarchal- men have more power

·         Women are dependent on their husbands as they have given up work to run the house

·         Women provide emotional support

Socialisation- children are socialised in to specific gender roles from a young age. Girls are brought dolls and prams, whilst boys are brought guns and action figures. This teaches girls that their gender role is to be caring and gentle and that boys are meant to


Hannah Wilson

What exam board is this on? x




can anyone sum up post modernists

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