The Functionalists Perspective on The Family:
Functionalist believes that society is based on a value of consensus – norms and values. Allows society to co-operate well.
Functionalists regard society as a system made up of different parts or sub-systems that depend on each other. E.g. family, education and economy
Murdock (1949) argues family performs four essential functions to meet the needs of society and its members:
Stable Satisfaction of The Sex Drive – the same partner preventing the social disruption cause by a sexual ‘ free for all’
Reproduction of The Next Generation – without society could not regenerate.
Socialiastion of The Young - into society’s shared norms and values.
Meeting Its Members’ Economic Needs – such as food and shelter.
Other institutions can form these functions – nuclear family meets theses needs.
Marxists and Feminists reject this, arguing that functionalism neglects conflict and exploitation.
Feminsts = see the family as serving the needs of men, oppressing women,.
Marxists = meets the needs of capitalism not those of family members or society as a whole.
Parsons’ Functional Fit’ Theory:
Parsons (1955) believes the functions that the family has to perform will depend on the kinds of society in which is found.
Parson = two main types of society. – Modern industrial society ( nuclear family, the dominant family type )and traditional pre- industrial society (extended family)
Parson sees industrial society as having two essential needs:
1. Geographically Mobile Workforce – people spent whole lives living in villages in pre. Now In modern people have to move countries to work. Easier for nuclear family to move rather than extended family.
2. A Social Mobile Workforce – modern is constantly evolving so people need to know the different skills and technology they have to use to be able to get a job. Status is not ascribed (fixed at birth but through own efforts) nuclear family better equipped than extended family. Conflict can happen as son have higher achieved status at work, but father does at home, therefore ego gets in way.
Young and Willmott (1973) pre industrial family was nuclear not extended as parson claims.
Y&W also claim that hardship of early industrial period gave rise to mum centered WC extended family. – based on mother and daughter who relied on each other for emotional, practical and financial support.
Hareven (1999) believes that extended family are better equipped than nuclear as parson claims.
From 1900 nuclear family emerged as a result of social change, that made the extended family less important as source of support. E.g. now have welfare state, NHS etc.
Loss of Functions:
Pre-industrial family was a multi-functional unit. E.g. both production on farm and unit of consumer, feeding and clothing members.
More self-sufficient, than modern family.
According to parsons society industrializes family not only changes its structure from extended to nuclear but also loses many of its functions e.g. move to work in factories and only becomes a consumer and not production.
Modern family only performs two essential functions:
The Primary Socialiastion of Children – equip them with basic skills and society’s values, enable them to co-operate with others and begin to integrate into society.
The Stabilization of Adult Personalities – family place where adult relieves tension enabling them to return to work refreshed and meet the demands.
Marxist Perspective on the Family:
Functionalist see society based on value of agreement. (consensus)
Marxist see the capitalist society based on unequal conflict between 2 social classes:
Capital Class = who own means of production
WC = whose labour the capitalist exploitation for profit.
Marxist see all society institution e.g. education, religion, media and state and family as maintaining inequality and capitalism
Therefore the function of the family is purely to benefit the