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Assess the contribution of Functionalism to our understanding of Families and Households.

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´╗┐Assess the Contribution of Functionalism to our understanding of Families and House holds According to Functionalists the family is key to our society and is made up of different parts that all depend on each other, so it meets all the expectations of society. Functionalists believe that the nuclear family ?fits? and supports society because it is geographically mobile and allows people to move around the country to find work, This suits our current economy. Murdock feels that the family provide, stable satisfaction of sex drive, reproduction of the next generation, Socialization of the young and finally Murdock thought meeting its member?s economic needs was crucial, such as food and shelter. Murdock strongly felt that the nuclear family performs these functions, although other sociologists agreed that most of these are important functions, they argued that they could be performed by other institutions not just nuclear families. ...read more.


They both felt that Men performed the instrumental role and provided for a family whilst women performed the expressive role and provided comfort and emotional support to the family. They also believed that marriage was a necessary institution for both a stable household and increased the chances of the family staying nuclear. To criticise Parsons View, Ronald Fletcher, pointed out that families are multifunctional. Families regulate sexual behaviour; provide a responsible basis for rearing children, socialising children and caring for the dependents. Parsons stated many of these functions are available outside the family, but many families still do them. So they carry out non-essential as well as essential functions. Fletcher sees three essential functions of the family in giving a stable environment for sexual needs and activity, producing and carefully raising children, and providing a satisfactory home. ...read more.


This makes Functionalist theory slightly outdated. Feminists see the family as serving the needs of men and oppressing women. Which clearly opposes the functionalist view as, if the family is built around men?s needs this can cause fights and arguments which can lead to separation or divorce resulting in single parent families, which ruins the functionalist view of the ?ideal nuclear family?. One of the strongest criticisms of Functionalism, making it less useful to our understanding of the family, is the way that it ignores the ?dark side? of family life such as Domestic Violence. It shows the family in only a positive light. Overall, I think that Functionalism is useful to our understanding of the family in history, but not as useful in today?s society because of the narrow view it holds. Despite this, by comparing it with other theories we can learn much about present day society and the role of the family within it. ...read more.

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