• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Sociology The Family

Extracts from this document...


Family structures and how they have developed over time, as the result of the social changes brought about by industrialisation is of particular interest to those studying the sociology of the family. Three key sociological theories in the study of the family are functionalism, Marxism and feminism. It is the intention of this essay to discuss and evaluate these theories using sociological studies which support these schools of thought. Functionalism describes the family as having its role or function within society. Functionalists normally assume that if a social institution is evident then it must have a role or function. The family is looked at in terms of its functions being beneficial for society and the individual. When a child is born it must be looked after and cared for by, in most societies, the parents of the child. Therefore the function of the family is to look after the next generation and aid them through childhood. The role the family has effectively allows the child to learn many different things for example, language, society, values and norms. Not only does the family support the individual through childhood but for most of adult life. ...read more.


(Harolambos and Holborn 2004:471) The Marxist approach to the family also has strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately Engels theory was based upon early unreliable anthropological evidence and his view upon early society no longer seems to stand ground within society today. Although his theory on the origins of sexual equality have led to the Marxist approach of the monogamous family. The third sociological theory (another conflict theory) is feminism. The feminist perspective focuses on a number of social, cultural and political movements and theories that are concerned with gender inequalities and prejudice against women. Feminism can also be seen to be an ideology based on the equality of both sexes. The feminist approach of the family tends to emphasise the negative effects of the family upon women. Anne Oakley's studies "The Sociology of Housework" and the "Housewife" depicts the feminist tradition of viewing women in a subordinate social role to men. Anne Oakley looked at conjugal roles within the family and the divide of housework between men and women. Oakley analysed the research of Willmott and Young (1973) in which the researchers asked only one question to a husband, "Do you help with the housework?" ...read more.


It also tells us that feminism is not gender specific and highlights the issues of both sexes. The feminist perspective shows the effects of male dominance within the home in relation to domestic labour. In conclusion the contributions made by the functionalist, Marxist and feminist perspectives to sociology have brought us to an understanding in how the family works as a social institution today. They highlight the importance of several social factors which have come to create specific conditions within the family. For example the effect of the economy on the family. The studies of the family also shows us the family's role within society and how it has come to effect both sexes. Important figures in sociology such as Talcott Parsons , Friedrich Engels and Anne Oakley have been important in how we understand the family in contemporary society and in pre-industrial society and the contributions to sociology they have Reference List Haralambos and Holborn (2004) ASCHNCSociologyBSK/Family 11.8.07 ASCHNCSociology/Oakley HW/SK 13.8.07 made will be vital to us also in the future as to how we understand the family. ?? ?? ?? ?? Sociology The Family Ryan Robertson 17.12.2007 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Family & Marriage section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Family & Marriage essays

  1. Examine the contribution of feminist perspectives to an understanding of the family.

    Liberal feminists also believe that patriarchy is the main cause of gender inequality. in conclusion, the feminist theory does not explain why the role of women varies across cultures. It also suggests that all women who are housewives and caregivers naturally hate what they do because they are stuck at

  2. Analyse how the family structure has changed over the last 100 years

    The last 100 years have shown an increase in the number of reconstituted families, causes for this change of family structure could be divorce rates increasing just like many of the increases of other family structures, divorce seems to be the cause as there is a rising expectations for marriage

  1. Is the nuclear family in decline?

    Gale group.com) The new right have argued for the return to traditional family values as a remedy for these proplems,but from my research, it is clear that though the institution of the nuclear family is in decline, most people are still in one family or the other.it looks as if

  2. Sociology Research Paper - To examine how teenage pregnancy affects the teen mothers health ...

    Fig 10 refers to what measures can be used to prevent teenage pregnancy in the community 30% of the respondents from the community said that they should keep counseling sessions 20%, said that more sexual educations are to be

  1. Assess the functionalist view that the family is functional for its members and society

    Marxists also argue that the family props up capitalism by firstly; the reproduction of labour power. This is when future generations of workers are socialised to work as their parents have. Also when workers come home to a relaxed atmosphere so that they are able to go back to work refreshed.

  2. Sociology and the Family

    as beneficial for society. Sociologist Talcott Parsons (1956) professed ?Only the nuclear family unit could effectively provide the achievement orientated and geographically mobile workforce required by modern industrial economies? (p. 67). Functionalist theory is generally critiqued by Marxists, feminists and historians alike.

  1. Describe and discuss the Functionalist perspective in relation to the family.

    By performing these key functions, the family is able to link up with other groups in society, such as schools, workplaces, hospitals etc, therefore providing future pupils for education, future workers for the economy, future wives and mothers for the nuclear family, and so on.

  2. Gender roles/expectations that exists in contemporary Japanese society

    Women became the leading role?s players. They were representing the main group of mass consume culture. Nowadays, Japan is known as one of the richest country in the world, and consumerism here has really high incomes (and, actually it has also negative side).

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work