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Assess the functionalist contribution to our understanding of the family.

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´╗┐Denis Kirya Assess the functionalist contribution to our understanding of the family? Functionalist ideology employs the idea of the nuclear family being the main universal family in society and most benefitting. The nuclear family functions to meet the pro dominant means of society (sexual reproduction, educational and economic functions). The family allows each member of the family to shine individually and enjoy success from this although feminists would argue about women gaining any benefits from the nuclear family. Functionalist Charles Murray also argues other family institutions weaken the production of society?s needs. Divorce is ultimately highlighted as one of the main causes of this creation of new families which are presumably less effective in meeting the functional needs of society through the family. Sociologists Young and Wilmott research in the 2nd half of the 20th century indicated nuclear family as the dominant family type in Britain at the time. Functionalist viewed the institution as a symmetrical family in reference to the equal relationship between husbands and wives in private. ...read more.


The structure of the nuclear has also been subject to criticism; an ideology of women being are reserve army of labour has been developed by sociologist Breugel. The domestic labour completed in the home by women is free and this duly reduces the demands of working class men while adding profits to the male race. Marxists similarly developed the idea of warm bath theory implying the family is there to produce comfort for the men and help relieve the stress of work and act as a deterrent to men asking for better wages and continues the exploitation by the upper class. Radical Feminists however contradict this argument suggesting the influential structural divide in society is led and supported by patriarchy. Ideologies of familism and familialism are singled out as by sociologists Barrett and Maclntosh as the main constructors of this divide. Demands of the family have overshadowed women throughout post-industrial society and as still evident in today?s society were women often will suffer with domestic and economic duties. ...read more.


Distinctly though all this change in society has produced more family diversity than ever before as highlighted by Gershuny where the nuclear family is thought of as under threat from being over looked. The picture of family is now more complex than ever and increase in males as primary carers perhaps highlights attitudes of family being taken out the shell and replaced by new ideas. Encouragingly women are being granted the proper treatment by working institutions during motherhood with paternity leaves being freely given and new provisions for legislations under parliament scrutiny the future only holds prospects of more equality for women undergoing motherhood in working institutions. Having weighed up the different sociological views on functional views on the family I?ve come to the judgement that functionalist contributions to our understanding of family are incomplete and fail to paint an accurate picture to mirror modern society although their perception still reflects the traditional view on family other factors which have developed later on mean we must question whether Willmott and Young research only fulfilled demands of patriarchal society at the time rather than reflect family life as a whole post gender quake. ...read more.

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