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Outline and evaluate the Marxist view of the family

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´╗┐Outline and evaluate the Marxist view of the family Marxism looks at the methods of control of the ruling class (bourgeoisie) in determining the way society is organized. The family is seen as part of the structure of society and is one of a number of social institutions which help maintain the capitalist system. Marxists state that it is the requirements of this system that has come to shape the family in modern societies. From a Marxist perspective, society revolves around the infrastructure and social superstructure. The superstructure maintains the infrastructure whilst the infrastructure shapes the superstructure. ...read more.


Engels stated that this system is maintained by the socialisation of capitalist social norms and values. Marxists do not see this as benefiting the family at all, only the system, and therefore this helps support their theory that the family exists as a largely negative institution. Zaretsky (1979) looked at the change in the family from a unit of production to a unit of consumption. Like Engels, he noted that socialisation was used to instill values and norms applicable to the system of capitalism. He saw the family as a tool of capitalist society that is vital for its survival, and observed how many features of the modern family supported it, like spending on leisure activities and encouraging aspirations such as owning a house and attaining wealth. ...read more.


The family was observed to provide a source of satisfaction that cannot be found in society as a whole, something that bears similarities to the functionalist 'warm bath theory'. In conclusion, the Marxist view of the family is mostly negative. It sees many of the key features of the family as mechanisms of capitalist society, and differs greatly from other sociological theories such as functionalism, which presents a comforting image of the family. Critics of Marxist viewpoints include Somerville (2000), who claimed that Zaretsky did not take the element of the 'dark side of the family' into account when discussing its supportive qualities. Its extensive focus on class division could be seen as another negative feature of Marxist theory on family, as it appears to ignore other factors such as gender and ethnicity. ...read more.

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

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A brief but effective piece of work regarding Marxism and the family. The theory was outlined well, and there was good use of other theorists to critique/support it. The writer evidenced clear knowledge of not just Marxism but Functionalism also.
Consider how you could develop the work regarding Marx's narrow focus on class - why exactly is it a weakness?

Marked by teacher Diane Apeah-Kubi 28/06/2013

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