Submitted By JabuLani-Karima
Words: 730
Pages: 3

FUNCTIONALISTS VIEW OF THE FAMILY Functionalist’s view of families and households is mainly a positive view. In this essay, I will assess and describe the understanding of families through a functionalist view. G.P. Murdock (1949) labelled a family as a social group characterized by common residence, financial relations and reproduction. It includes adults of both sexes, who are at least able to maintain a socially approved sexual relationship, have one or more children, be it their own or adopted. This definition is focused on the nuclear family which is a normal two-generation family made up of a heterosexual couple dependent on off springs. Sociologists suggest that this is the ideal type of family to which people should aspire to. It was generally accepted that this type of family, should have certain types of characteristics. Firstly, it should be small and compact in structure, composed of a mother, father and 2 or more children. Secondly, they should live together in a household. In addition, the relationship between the adults should be heterosexual and based on romantic love. The children are seen as the outcome of that love. Another characteristic is that the male role is family breadwinner and head of household, whereas the female role is more of taking care of household duties and childcare. Lastly, the family members receive nurturing and un-conditional love and care. Similarly, New Right thinkers agree that the nuclear family is seen as a cereal packet family in the sense that it represents the nuclear family through cereal advertisements. Most cereal adverts show a mother giving cereal to the children and the father getting ready for work which clearly represents their roles in a home. In addition, Functionalism is a structural theory in the sense that it believes that the social structure of society which can be described as the social institutions such as the economy, education, media, law, religion and family, is responsible for shaping us as individuals and determining our experiences and life chances. Functionalists are interested in how the family functions for the greater good for society and in particular, how it contributes to maintenance of social order. Another Functionalist, Parsons (1965) have attempted to trace the historical development of the family in order to explain why the nuclear family form has been so dominant. Parson’s theory of the family mainly focused on examining the influence of industrialization and the economy on family structures and relationships. Parsons argued that the economic systems of pre-industrial societies were largely based on extended kinship networks. Land and other resources were uncommonly owned or rented by a range of relatives extending well beyond the nuclear family unit e.g. it was not uncommon to live with and work alongside cousins. This extended family was responsible for the production of food, shelter and clothing, and would trade with other family groups for those things they