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´╗┐Assess the contribution of functionalists to our understanding of families and households. Functionalist?s views are based on the conviction that society is made up from critically important factors which have their own particular purpose in the functioning of our daily life. They also believe that if one of the segments fail (e.g. education, family, economy), then other factors continuously follow the failure, and society cannot work correctly or smoothly. A good example to illustrate it is imagining a broken pen or human body. If one of the parts, or organs, stop working then it triggers a chain of destruction and the object has no possibility to work appropriately. George Murdoch (1949) argued that the family performs four essential functions in order to meet the needs of society and its members. These functions are: economic stability, reproduction, primary socialisation and sex. ...read more.


A famous functionalist, Talcott Parsons created theory about two basic types of society. Modern industrial society (where the model of nuclear family fits in) and pre-industrial society (extended family model representation). In Parson?s opinion, when Britain started to industrialise, from the 18th century onwards, the extended family model began to give way to the nuclear one. The explanation for those actions is simple ? society had different needs. According to Talcott, industrial society had two essential needs: a geographically mobile workforce as well as a socially mobile workforce. While people used to grow up and live in the same small villages, in close proximity to a workplace in traditional pre-industrial society, individuals started to move around the world and seek jobs primarily for wealth. Obviously, it would be much difficult to move around and relocate within an extended family (three generations). ...read more.


Finally, to fully understand the contribution of functionalism to our understating of family and household, we have to look at the reflecting theory ? Marxism and feminism. Marxists argue that the family is shaped by those who own the means of production (bourgeoisie) and that the family performs ideological functions that reinforce inequality between the classes and persuades people to accept the capitalist system as a fair system. The family raises children into thinking that inequality and the hierarchy of society are fair. However, Marxists tend to assume that the nuclear family is the most dominant family type in society and they ignore other variations of family. Feminists are critical of the Marxist view of the family, believing that they place too much emphasis on class conflict and ignore gender inequalities. Also Functionalists also claim that Marxists and Feminists ignore the functions that a family plays, such as support and intimacy. ...read more.

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