Sociology: Perspectives on the family

Murdock (functionalist) argues that there are four main functions of the family, what are these? (SRSE)
1. Sexual intimacy in socially approved context, 2. Reproduction, 3. Socialization family is an important unit of Primary Socialisation, 4. Economic - family provides food and shelter
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According to murdock, what family type carries out the four functions of a family?
Nuclear family. he suggests this family type is found in every society.
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What are the tro functions of the family Parsons (functionalist) argues the family performs?
1. Primary socialization of children, 2. Stabilisation of human personalities
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Explain Parsons function: primary socialization of children.
The learning and internalisation of socities culture e.g. language, history, values. He argues society would cease to exist without this.
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Explain Parsons function: The stabilization of human personalities.
In industrial societies, strain combined with boredom at with and the pressure to achieve success and support the family destabilises personalities. Family stabilises through sexual division of labour.
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Define: sexual division of labour
According to Parsons: women have an expressive role, men an instrumental role. Wifes expressive role releases tension by providing love and understanding, stabilising personalities.
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Which sociologists suggested that classic extended family has largely disappeared in modern society and that other family types have emerged?
Parsons, Young and WIllmott, Fletcher
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What do Parsons, Fletcher and Young and WIllmott say have emerged with the disappearance of the classic nuclear family?
Structually isolated privatised nuclear family, or some form of modified extended family.
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Define Privatised nuclear family.
A Self-contained, self-reliant and home-centred unit, with fee time spent doing jobs around the house, and leisure time mainly spent with family.
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What are the families likely to be like in a Privatized nuclear family?
They are likely to know more, care more, about the lives of media soap stars, celebrities, and computer game heroes than they do about the real people who live in their street.
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Why does Parsons call the Privatised nuclear family the 'structurally isolated' family?
Because it has lost many of its functions and links to other social institutions
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According to Parsons why has the 'structurally isolated' family emerged?
It is well adapted to meet both the needs of modern society and the needs of individuals.
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What are the first three of the six main reasons for a decline in extended family life? (GMSMWDS)
1. The need for geographical mobility, 2. The higher rate of social mobility in contemporary society, 3. Growth in people's wealth and income as society has for richer and the welfare state developed.
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What are the last three of the six main reasons for decline in extended family life?
4. The growth in meritocracy in contemporary societies. 5. Nee to avoid possibility of ecnomic and status differences in an extended family unit causing conflict and family instability. 6. need to protect family stability by strengthening bonds.
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Define 'structural differentiation'
Parsons defines this as functions of the family tat has shifted to specialised institutions e.g. NHS, Education, Welfare
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What are the criticisms of the functionalist perspective of the family?
1. Downplaying conflict 2. Being out of date 3. Ignoring the exploitation of women 4. Ignoring harmful effects of the family (Leach)
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What does Leach (1967) say in criticism of the functionalist approach of the family?
He argues in modern society the family has become isolated from kin and wider community (privitization) this leads to emotional stress. 'Far from being the basis of good society, the the source of all our discontents'.
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Name two Marxists that criticise the functionalist approach to the family.
Laint and Esterson (1970) and Cooper (1972) family can be destructive and exploitative institution. They see families as smothering individuality.
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Who argues against the view that the family has lost its functions?
Fletcher (1966)
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What does Fletcher argue about the view that family as lost its functions?
Pre-industrial poverty meant functions such as welfare, education or recreation were often not carried out. Children were neglected, animals treated better than wives. He argues family now has fewer responsibilities placed on it.
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What institutions does Fletcher argue help with reducing family responsibility in contemporary society?
Social services, education, medicine (doctors).
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What economic function does Fletcher say the family conducts?
Unit of consumption.
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Define the feminist view of Unit of Production
Modern family is a unit of production. womens unpaid domestic labour produces goods and services in the family which would have otherwise been very expensive.
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How has reproduction, self-sufficiency and extended family changed in the 1970s
Reproduction has increased since 1970s, family is less self-sufficient - work has moved from the home, skills now learn in universities. Less dependant on extended family - more welfare benefits, NHS , social services
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How has healthcare, socialization and education changed since the 1970s
Family once took care of the elderly as poverty meant more health and poor healthcare but now home for elderly, welfare, unemployment allowances. increase in childrens centres, child minders, preschools. Education now taken over by the state.
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Define: Modified extended family.
Related nuclear families, through living apart geographically, maintain regular contact and mutual support facilitated by modern communication and transport.
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Where can the classical nuclear family still be found?
Asian and traditional working-class communities.
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What function does the New Right see the nuclear family and kinship network as perfroming?
Towards social stability: providing emotional security for children, socializaing them into societies culture, establishing respect for moral values and norms.
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According to New Right theorists, what social changes are threatening the nuclear family?
rising divorce rate, more step families, more lone parents, gay marriage/civil partnership, welfare state policies, support relationships outside conventional nuclear family.
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What do New Right theoriests argue social changes that threaten the nuclear family cause?
The undermining of social stability and point to rising lack of respect and anti-social behaviour among the young, lack of discipline in school and educational under achievement, alcohol and drug abuse, crime and welfare dependency.
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What do Murray and Marsland argue?
`New Right Theorists: They argue that the welfare state has undermined personal responsibility and self-help, and the importance of support from families. They also argue welfare encourages single women to have children they could not otherwiseafford
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Define Dependency Culture
Murray and Marsland argue that the welfare state causes these. Dependency culture: set of values and beliefs centered on dependence on others particularly from the welfare state.
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Define underclass
work-shy underclass: high levels of illegitimacy, lone parenthood, family instability contributing to wider social issues.
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What do the New Right want to implement to stop the erosion of the traditional family unit?
Policies to counter divorce rate, and births outside of marriage. reduction of welfare state benefits to non-conventional families.
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What does Engels argue?
Monogamous nuclear family developed as a means of passing on private property to heirs. the family and monogamy provided proof of paternity.
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What does Althusser (1971) argue (ISA)
He argues that for capitalism to survive and ideological state apparatus must be enforced by institutions in society, including the family, education, ect. Which are concerned with social control and passing on ruling class ideology.
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What does Zaretsky argue?
He sees the family as an escape route from the oppression and exploitation at work.
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What do feminists say in criticism of Zaretskys view?
It is rose tinted and ignores the work that goes into making a family a haven that is often at the expense of women.
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Foucault's view on the family
Through surveillance, the state keeps an eye on you using institutions e.g. CJS, Social services, Healthcare, Education system, Media. But in post modern societies there is more internalised surveillance.
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How does Henderson et al apply Foucaults concept?
They apply it to the family and motherhood. Mothers Judge other mothers. Confirmed by NETMUMS survey (5000) in 2011 found mothers were under pressure to appear like perfect parents therefore ,they often lied about their parenting skills.
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What did the 2003 report by the institute of Education find?
People are now far more likely to marry for love and affection rather than social obligation with a growing aspect on emotional aspects of relationships and personal fulfilment.
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Summarise the feminist perspective on the family.
They emphasise the harmful effects of the family life upon women, and the role of the family in the continuing oppression of women. family and marriages are a major source of inequality.
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Summarise the concept of: Family as a place of work
Feminists: housework is unpaid work. Oakley (1974) emphasised that work is hard, routine and unrewarding and remains primarily the responsibility of women.
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Summarise the concept of: the myth of the symmetrical family
Women still mainly perform housework, less likely to make important decisions, make sacrifices to make sure family is taken care of, give up paid work and expected to care for children.
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Define symmetrical family
Roles of married or cohabiting couples becoming more equal
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What is the average pay of women in comparison to men?
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True or false: men are more likely to be victims of domestic violence.
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What do Liberal Feminists argue?
Womens position in the family as those with the most responsibility causes adverse effects on power, careers and health. Best way to improve position is through reform measures to reduce discrimination and establish opportunity for women.
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What kind of measures should be put in place, according to liberal feminists, to increase opportunity for women?
1. changing socialization and parenting practices to avoid gender stereotyping. 2. asserting legal rights for women as individuals 3. Paternity and maternity leave. 4.Cheaper childcare 5. symmetrical family 6. action against domestic violence.
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Name three acts that have been up in place to prevent discrimination of women.
e.g Equal Pay Act (1970), Sex Discrimination Act (1975) Equality Act (2010)
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Criticism of the liberal feminist approach
Do not tackle fundamental inequalities that women face as a result of patriarchy and capitalism.
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Summarise the Radical Feminist approach.
Patriarchy and male oppression is the main obstacle to women equality. Family is patriarchal and benefits men at the expensive of women. They reject family life and often hetero relationships in general.
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What does Greer (2007) suggest?
Many relationships between men and women in all spheres on life in contemporary society remain highly patriarchal and exploitative.
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Summarise the marxist feminist view.
Women are exploited as workers and women. family maintains capitalism by 1. social reproduction of power 2. social control of WC
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Explain the Marxist Feminist view that family helps maintain social control of the WC
Expectation that parents must provide material comforts therefore they must stay in boring menial work weakening bargaining power for higher pay. Family is a 'safety valve' providing release. Delphy and Leonard argue safety value is produced by women
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Criticisms of Marxist feminism and Radical feminist perspectives.
1. Womens role not the same in all families. 2. Not passive victims. Hakim suggests inequality is a result of womens preferences and women have different aspirations. 3. more women are now independent. 4. two-thirds of divorces initiation by women.
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Summarise the post modernist perspective on family.
Traditional ideas about the family are being rejected. Multiple family types emerging. Diversity and consumer choice have disintegrated the family
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What do Gernsheim (2002) and Stacey (1996) argue? (postmodernism)
Traditional family being replaced by diversity of relationships. People no longer feel bound by traditional idas about marriage, lifelong monogamy, parenthood and family life. Rise in divorce, cohabitation, multiple partners, serial monogamy reflect.
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How do Postmodernists see the changes in society?
Simply a reflection of individuals making their consumer choices. pick and choose 'mix and match' relationships. alternatives to nuclear traditional and greater gay tolerance make it redundant as a social institution.
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Other cards in this set

Card 2


According to murdock, what family type carries out the four functions of a family?


Nuclear family. he suggests this family type is found in every society.

Card 3


What are the tro functions of the family Parsons (functionalist) argues the family performs?


Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4


Explain Parsons function: primary socialization of children.


Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5


Explain Parsons function: The stabilization of human personalities.


Preview of the front of card 5
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