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Sociology Questions on the Modern Family

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Sociology Test 3: 1. Describe the functions of a family. (9 marks) Ans) Functionalists see the family as a ?natural? way to organize human life. Functionalists have tended to look towards the family as a vital social institution changed with the basic functions of socialization and system maintenance. Fletcher proposes the main functions of a family as being procreation and child-bearing, the regulation of sexual behavior and the provision of a home. Fletcher states that the family structure provides an outlet for child bearing and raising. As the child is virtually helpless at birth, parental nurture and care is seen as vital during the early stages of a child?s social development and this is provided by the family structure. The family structure also acts as a regulator of sexual behavior. It defines the limits of sexual freedom and thus limits the chances of developing a sexually damaging relationship or petty sexual jealousies of developing. He views the family as a primary institution for the provision of love, care and emotional support for both children and adults and it provides a sense of belonging and serves to define role relationships between men and women. ...read more.


1. Evaluate the view that in modern industrial societies, the family has lost some of its functions. (16 marks) Ans) Functionalists such as Fletcher state that the functions of the family are procreation and child-bearing, the regulation of sexual behavior and the provision of a home. Fletcher also says that the family performs various non-essential functions which include, being a government of its own affairs, the economic consumption of goods, education, physical and mental health care, the first introduction of religious ideas and recreation. In the absence of a well-developed, organized State structure of any kind, the pre-industrial family was forced to take on numerous functions such as economic, social, for example ? looking after the welfare of relatives, educational, etc. Functionalists say that social institutions such as family develop out of the need to satisfy, fulfill and organize various human social needs. In small-scale societies these social needs are relatively few for example, in the case of family, they may involve the need to raise and socialize children, organize the provision of food, shelter and so forth, while as societies become larger and more complex these social needs become greater and involves such ...read more.


The State took over the provision of many of the Welfare functions formerly performed by the family. For example, health care benefits, pensions, etc. are now provided by the State. Talcott Parsons says that the modern industrial family has transcended most of its pre-industrial functions and has now evolved to develop two basic functions ? to reproduce and socialize children and to maintain and stabilize adult personalities. Functionalists have examined the family-State relationship in terms of whether or not increasing State intervention has led to the loss of some of the functions for the family. MacIver claims that the state has taken over the non-essential functions that the family used to perform. In contrast, Fletcher says that the State works together with the family to satisfy the individual and societal needs more effectively. In conclusion, the process of industrialization produced changes in the way work is organized and as people were forced to adapt to these changes, the family as both, an institution and a group also changed. The family as an institution lost some of its general functions to other social institutions and evolved to perform vital specific functions. ...read more.

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