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Outline and evaluate functionalists views of the role of the family in society

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Introduction

´╗┐Outline and evaluate functionalists views of the role of the family in society (33 marks) Functionalism?s basic ideas are the beliefs that the family compliment the Society and the ways it works. Functionalism works on the principle of a value consensus, whereby everyone in the country/society shares the same values. For example, they believe that institutions, such as the family teach us norms and values which helps socialise the generations as they grow. Not only the family, but schools, media and religion are also agents of socialisation that teach us these values. Functionalists explain functionalism by an organic analogy, describing it like the organs in a body that have separate roles but they work with each other to keep the body going. They compare this in relation to society whereby schools have a different function to family but they work in consensus with each other to keep society going. Functionalism?s ideas are that the functions of the family is it teaches us norms and values, gives emotional and moral support, provides shelter and basic needs and is a form of primary socialisation which teaches up the rules of society (e.g. ...read more.

Middle

The Dennis and Erdos study supports the ?New Right Theory? and shows that single mother?s children had poorer health, less educational achievement than married parents. Boys grew up with the attitude that they didn?t need a wife or family as not seen this modelled by a father figure. The social control of families are weakened with single parents, for example the children more likely to turn to crime. Talcott Parsons was an American functionalist and his views were that industrialisation led to the isolated nuclear family. This is known as structural isolation and is seen as the typical family in modern industrial society. Unlike before industrialisation the nuclear family is isolated from the wider kinship network. Meaning that relationships with relatives outside the nuclear family are now due to choice not necessity or obligation or duty. Parsons argued that there has been a loss of functions within the family in society. Such as specialist institutions like schools and hospitals have taken over family functions. His views are that family is no longer a production unit and now the adult members are individual wage earners. ...read more.

Conclusion

In evaluation theories such as Marxism contrasts with functionalism, with the views that family has a negative impact on society whereby they are brought up to believe that following the rules of society and going to work are positive, however not realising that they are only making money for their bosses which gives more power to the rich, exploiting the poor. Marxism believes that family supports capitalism of society. This links to functionalism because of the ?Warm Bath Theory?, the wives/mothers soaks up the stresses and strains of the family therefore family carries on going out to work and being exploited. Marxism?s views links to feminism and that the functionalist views supports male domination and patriarchy making men more powerful in society. Criticisms of functionalism are that it ignores the dark side of family life and the individual problems the family could have, and not just the fact they are a ?unit of production? for society. It overemphasises the harmonious nature of society. The idea of a change from a pre-industrial extended family structure to nuclear industrial is too simplistic. The value of functionalism for family types other than the nuclear family has been disputed. Functionalism fails to examine power inequalities between men and women. It also underplays the significance of women?s paid employment. ...read more.

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