Functionalists believe that society works exactly the same as the human body. There are key areas in it that all depend on each other in order to function. Key believers in the functionalist theory were George Peter Murdock and Talcott Parsons. They both introduced key concepts of the theory. Basically, functionalists regard the body as a major organ in the body of society.
Murdock believed that the nuclear family (a family consisting of a mother, a father and their children) was universal. He claimed that the family performed 4 major functions in society. These were sexual, because marriage was viewed as the only acceptable sexual relationship, reproducing, because it is vital to produce children, economic, because there has to be an element of someone providing for our needs, and socialisation, because it is vital that children learn about culture, norms and values. Criticisms of Murdock would be that he is seen as an ethnocentric, which means based on his own culture. People say he is value laden as he assumes there is a right and a wrong way to live. He took it for granted that traditional gender roles were desirable/universal. A fundamentally key criticism of him was that he did not consider whether the 4 functions could be carried out by other social institutions. Murdock considered the reproduction and nurturing of children to be the main reason for marriage, as a means of passing on family property and providing fuel for the future workforce. However, less than a quarter of women in modern times actually have a child. As of 2012 47.5 % of births were outside of marriage, it is estimated to be over 50% in 2016. Furthermore, contrary to what his theories on work were, the family is now actually a unit of consumption, based outside the home. Not only that but the family is not the sole role of caring for children. Social services can remove children from their families. According to him family was meant to have main responsibility health and well care provision for the old, sick, young etc. The NHS now cares for those who are unstable of vulnerable. Finally, primary and secondary socialisation and social control of children and their education used to be performed by the family and close community. Although now secondary socialisation is no longer limited to the family.
Parsons believes that the family has become more specialised and performs two basic functions. The first is the primary