• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Assess the contribution of functionalism to our understanding of families and households.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

´╗┐Assess the contribution of functionalism to our understanding of families and households. Functionalist sociologists believe that the family is the key institution of society and that it performs vital functions for the maintenance of society as a whole as well as for individual members. According to Murdock, it provides important sub-system that provides stable satisfaction for the sex drive and therefore avoids social disruption. As well as this, Murdock says the family reproduces the next generation and thus ensuring current society to continue. Parsons argued that the pre-industrial society was focused on the extended family. Roles in these families were always based on ascription, not achievement. According to parsons, industrialisation had many effects on the family. This meant that the economy demanded a more geographically mobile workforce. Nuclear families were formed as people moved away their extended kin in order to take advantage of job opportunities. Specialized Agencies took over many functions of the family e.g., families could now buy food and clothes mass-produced by factories. ...read more.

Middle

Therefore, the family sets boundaries for deviant behaviour and ensures that children grow up to conform to laws and rules. However, there are many criticisms towards functionalist views on the family. Marxists argue that the nuclear family reproduces and maintains class inequality and the working class are distracted from the fact that they are exploited by capitalism. E.g. having the father as the leader within the family discourages workers from questioning the hierarchy nature of capitalism. From a Marxist perspective, the nuclear family benefits those who run the capitalist system, not the whole of society. Marxist-Feminists argue that the Nuclear family supports capitalism and benefits men. Women are pressure to have children, which then become the workforce. In addition, the socialisation of children ensures the pattern of male dominance and female subordination. Marxist feminists also look at the family in a negative and critical way. They argue the main cause of women's oppression is capitalism- the economic system that exists in the most countries in the world. ...read more.

Conclusion

They support family diversity, especially single or gay/ same sex families and disagree with the nuclear family. They also support divorce as it allows women to escape a patriarchal lifestyle. The New Right holds traditional values and believes that the 'normal' nuclear family is the cornerstone of society. They believe in the nuclear family (similar to conservatives). They believe that families are not changing but 'deteriorating' because of the decline in the Nuclear Family. Murray believed that the Beveridge report encouraged the welfare state instead of helping people the way it was intended to because social attitudes lead people to believe they have a right to receive benefits. He is highly critical of the Welfare state and believes that this started a dependency culture, which has now led to an Underclass. In conclusion, functionalism does not contribute a lot to our understanding of families and households as there are many different views on the same concept by different sociological groups, therefore looking at just a functionalist argument would be bias and would only provide a narrow understanding of the whole concept of families and households. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Family & Marriage section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

3 star(s)

This is a fairly good essay that uses some very good counter-arguments in particular. The essay however does miss out some of the key aspects of the Functionalist view in terms of the main functions of the family. Also the introduction and particularly the conclusion need to be stronger. Mark: ***

Marked by teacher Matthew Wilkin 09/04/2013

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Family & Marriage essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Critically examine the Functionalist idea that the nuclear family exists for the benefit of ...

    5 star(s)

    The 'dark side' of the family does not benefit anyone and is extremely damaging to society as a whole and individual families. Secondly, Functionalists believe the family structure allocates people to family and occupational roles which make the best use of their talents and abilities.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    Outline and evaluate the functionalist view of the role of the family

    4 star(s)

    They do not agree with the consensus approach like the functionalist. They believe society operates solely for the benefit of the bourgeoisie. The family is an important institution for the ruling classes as it forms part of the superstructure and passing on ruling class norms and values.

  1. Decline of nuclear family

    and careers and are perhaps wanting more from their relationships with men than in the past. Hart has argued that the increase in the divorce rate clearly indicates a 'consumerist approach' to marriage. As with our role of consumers we are less and less likely to 'make do' with something once it ceases to please us.

  2. Examine the view that the nuclear family is universal. (24)

    However, even if matrifocal families are in the minority, this does not necessarily mean that they cannot be recognized as an alternative family structure. In many societies that practise polygyny, polynous marriages are in the minority, yet sociologists accept them as a form of extended family.

  1. Sociology The Family

    is one of a number of social institutions which help maintain this structure or the economic system. Marxists state that it is the requirements of the capitalist system that have come to shape the family in industrial societies (ASCHNCSociologyBSK/Family 11.8.07:9).The work of Friedrich Engels "The Origin of the Family" provides a basis for the Marxist view of society.

  2. Examine the effects of industrialization on the structure of the family

    short life expectancy so most grandparents would not life long after they see their first grandchild. However Young and Willmott looked at the history of the family in Britain to describe the changes. They argued that the structure of the family has gone trough three stages.

  1. Sociology Family Revision Notes

    Most still marry, children reared by natural parents Most marriages still continue till dea.l;th, most divorcees remarry ? divorce increased Cohabitation has increased but that is seen as a temporary faze before marriage and is likely to get married if have children.

  2. Analyse how the family structure has changed over the last 100 years

    The changes in marriage and cohabitation (which is when couples are living together without being married) have contributed to the growing number of new types of family. Two in five of all marriages are now remarriages, this leads to the rise in reconstituted families.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work