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Assess the view that the nuclear family functions to benefit all its members and society as a whole

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Introduction

´╗┐Sociology Essay: Using Information from items A, B, C and elsewhere, assess the view that the nuclear family functions to benefit all its members and society as a whole. The Nuclear Family is formed from two generations, i.e. an adult heterosexual marriage and their dependent children, all living, in the same household. Each theoretical perspective all have different opinions on what the nuclear family represents. For example feminists believe the nuclear family suggests the woman would have to stay at home to cook, clean and tend the children while the man would have a job and provide the family with wealth. However, in less than 40 years, the proportion of households fitting this nuclear family description has dropped from 52 per cent to just 36 per cent of people in the U.K living as a Nuclear family. Here is a short essay discussing my view of different theoretical perspectives on whether the Nuclear family benefits all its members and society as a whole. Functionalists believe that society is based on a value consensus ? a set of shared norms and values ? into which society socialises its members. This enables them to cooperate harmoniously to meet society?s needs and achieve shared goals. Functionalists see the family as a particularly important to society because it plays the dominant role amongst all social institutions in making individuals feel part of wider society. ...read more.

Middle

They also believe that the nuclear family functions to benefit capitalism and, therefore, the wealthy rather than the whole of society. As it states in Item B ?they argue that there exists a domestic division of labour in which men exploit women. Some feminists see this as a product of capitalism, while others claim that families were characterized by patriarchy well before industrialization came along.? Patriarchy ideology is a term used by feminists, which means male-dominated ideas. Barrett and McIntosh?s ?The Anti-Social Family?: the anti-social family of the title is the conventional nuclear family. They argue that the nuclear family is anti-social not only because women are oppressed within it but also because it is promoted as the only right way to live; all alternatives are seen as inadequate or even deviant. The many people who find that the Nuclear families do not work for them are then made to feel that they have failed in some way. Barrett and McIntosh describe the effects of this promotion of a familial ideology as familialism, analogous to racism and sexism. The radical ? feminists also argue that the nuclear family mainly functions to benefit men because gender-role socialization results in males and females subscribing to a set of ideas that largely confirm male power and superiority. ...read more.

Conclusion

Evaluating Marxism and feminist theories of the family. Feminist theories of the family have dated fairly badly, because they fail to account for recent economic and social changes, such as the feminisation of the economy, the educational success of young females, women?s use of divorce, and many women?s rejections of domestic labour as their unique responsibility. Also, feminists theories portray women as passively accepting their lot ? the reality, however, is that women can adopt a range of active social identities today, may of which do not involve playing a secondary role to men. In other words, many young women are resisting traditional male definitions of what their role should be. As well as, all three theories are guilt of overemphasising the nuclear family and neglecting the rich diversity of family types in modern society. Finally, Marxism and feminism are also very critical of the nuclear family but fail to offer any practical alternatives to it. To conclude, I believe that the ?nuclear family? used to be a very suitable family structure, however times have changed and its now very un-acceptable for domestic violence and abusive partners to be allowed to continue their violence. Therefore I believe nowadays people don?t have the choice to live as a nuclear family, and even if they did I disagree that it benefits all its members and society because I agree with the Marxists point of view that the nuclear family reproduces and maintains inequality. ...read more.

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