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Sociology Family Unit - Family Concepts and Definitions

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´╗┐Emma Rudd BMA 26th November Sociology ? Family Unit - Family Concepts and Definitions What is the Family? The majority of the world?s population experience a form of family; this can involve a wide variety of options. For example, in the Toda culture in India a woman may be simultaneously married to several men at the same time. In the Netherlands gay couples can marry, in Bali twins can marry, as it is believed that twins have already been intimate in the womb, in the Banaro culture of New Guinea the husband is forbidden to have sex with his wife until she has born a child by another man chosen specifically for this purpose. In Western culture the nuclear family (both parents and children) is seen as the natural / desirable way to live. This is known as the dominant ideology. Even though there are diverse types of families in Western culture the nuclear family is seen as the ?best?. Nuclear and Extended Families There are a number of characteristics that are associated with the nuclear family. ...read more.


For example some people live on their own so this would be a single household, another example might be students or young people who are unrelated but share a flat this is called a house share. Lawson and Garrod (1996) said, ?most families live in households, but not all households are families.? The Cereal Packet Family A popular image of the family in Britain in the late twentieth century has been described as the cereal packet family. The image is often promoted in advertising, with ?family sized? breakfast cereals, toothpaste and other consumer goods. The ?happy family? image gives the impression that most people live in a typical family and these images reinforce the dominant ideology of the traditional nuclear family. Is There a Typical Family Type? There is no longer a typical type in Britain as: 39% live in a nuclear family, although parents may be unmarried or re married. A single parent heads 25% of families with dependent children. 3% are headed by a teenager 29% of households consist of people living alone. Functionalists Roles of the Family ? Parsons The Functionalists sociologist Parsons sees two main functions of the family these are: The ...read more.


Functional Differentiation Functional differentiation shows the difference between the roles of families before and after the industrial revolution. For example pre-industrial the role of looking after the elderly and sick belonged to the family unit, but in industrial societies the responsibility goes to the specialised agencies such as hospitals and social services. Criticisms of the Functionalists Functionalist?s theories tend to focus on the positive functions of the family and give little consideration to its disadvantages. I.e. Feminists emphasise the male dominated nature of the traditional family. Functionalists assume that the family is of equal benefit to everyone. But Marxists argue that society is shaped by the needs of the capitalist economy and that the family exists to serve these needs rather than those of its members. Functionalists fail to consider the viability of alternatives to the family Many functionalists, particularly Parsons, do not consider the diversity of family types. Even within one society, there are variations based on class, region, ethnicity, religion etc. Interpretive sociologists argue that functionalists concentrate too much on the importance of the family for society and ignore the meaning family life has for individuals. BUT even those who criticise the family admit its social importance. ...read more.

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