The family losing its functions? (essay plan)

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Using material from Item 2B and elsewhere, assess the view that, in today's society, the family is losing its functions (24 marks)

  • Functionalist view of the family
  • The role of the education system
  • Rising divorce rates
  • Lone-parent families
  • Births outside marriage
  • Murdock
  • Parsons

From item 2b you can see that...

- functionalists see the family as fulfilling a number of important functions for individuals and for society

- other sociologists disagree and believe that these functions are being taken over by other institutions and the family is losing its importance.


- see society as based on a value consensus (a shared set of values and norms or culture). This shared culture enables members of society to co-operate harmoniously to meet society's needs and to achieve their common goals.

- family plays a vital role in maintaining the social system and meeting the needs of other sub-systems eg. the economy

- positive view of the family, performs beneficial functions for wider society and all its individual members.

- Murdock: four essential functions (nuclear family)

  • Stable satisfaction of the sex drive
  • Reproduction of the next generation
  • Socialisation of


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