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

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Introduction

´╗┐Using material from Item A and elsewhere assess the contribution of functionalism to our understanding of families and households. Functionalists believe that society is based on value consensus so we all share the same norms and values. They also believe that society is made up of different parts and that we all work together much like a human body. Functionalists take a very positive view on the family as they think it is one of the main institutions that keep society together. As item A states, George Murdock believes that the family has four functions for both society as a whole and for individual members. These functions are reproduction, stabilisation, socialisation and meeting economic needs. ...read more.

Middle

He believes that the different types of family fits different the type of society. He focuses largely on the nuclear family and the extended family. He stated that the nuclear family was best suited for industrial society because they can be a geographically mobile workforce and a socially mobile workforce because the family is smaller it can move to where the jobs are easier. However other sociologists contradict Parsons theory. Sociologists Young and Willmott state that pre industrial families were nuclear with parents and children working together. They thought that a combination of children being born later and short life expectancies grandparents would not be living long enough after the child?s birth. ...read more.

Conclusion

They also believe that it has ideological functions and that the family socialises children to know that hierarchy and inequality is inevitable so children learn to accept it as part of life. The second function according to Zaretsky is that it is supposed to provide a ?haven? and the workers can come home and relax and go to work the next day refreshed. Similarly feminists take a critical role of the family saying that it benefits men not society as a whole. In conclusion, Functionalist have outlined the positive effects of the family but has not given a clear picture and ignores the ?dark side? of the family such as domestic violence and child abuse. They also only focus on the nuclear family which in modern society is no longer the most common type. ...read more.

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