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

Assess the functionalist contribution to our understanding of the family.

Extracts from this document...


´╗┐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.

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

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. Peer reviewed

    Examine the contribution of functionalist explanations towards an understanding of the family

    4 star(s)

    Murdock looked at 250 societies and came up with 4 functions of the family - sexual, reproduction, economic and education. In other words Murdock believed the family serves to regulate sexual behaviour, produces the next generation of society by reproduction, acts as an economic unit and socializes children into the culture of their society (education).

  2. Examine the contribution of feminist perspectives to an understanding of the family.

    They are more likely to have similar aspirations for them. The radical feminist, Anne Oakley, points out that the fact that they say 'helps their wife' implies that the primary responsibility is still the wife's. Oakley also points out that the creation of the housewife role is a social construction and is not inevitably linked to the female role.

  1. Is the modern family breaking down or is it simply changing?

    This was because women had fewer children therefore having more freedom and independence, and due to feminist rights women in paid labour lead to financial independence. As well as that women have also got higher expectations of their marriages today than they did in the past.

  2. GCSE Sociology Coursework

    For example, if I chose to observe the lesson construction then the majority of students will be male. This will also affect my questionnaires, as I will hand them out to the groups I am going to observe. Consequently, I will end up with more questionnaires completed by males, which

  1. How cultural deprivation affects the educational attainment of students.

    I feel that a questionnaire is the best suited method to my study. Students from different ethnic groups will have the same questions given to them and I will be able to establish a link between educational attainment and different factors.

  2. Is the nuclear family in decline?

    Katja Boh argues that there is a consistent pattern of non vengeance in diversity and that throughout the EU a great range of family type is now being accepted as normal (Boh, 1989) The family life as put forward by new right and feminist sociologist have being dominated by an ideology of femilism.

  1. Assess the functionalist view that the family is functional for its members and society

    They can play the ?fool? and enjoy being immature with their children stress free, experiencing cathartic behaviour after there stressful day at work. There are many weaknesses towards the functionalist view. Firstly, they ignore that in some families there is only one adult and that parent can give emotional and economic support being both an instrumental and expressive role.

  2. According to the functionalist sociologist the family is key institution of society, as it ...

    Similarly Parsons would agree to Murdock ideas on the functions of the family because they are similar to his two basic and irreducible functions, Although Murdock's studies focused more on the "practicality" of the family.

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