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Using materials from Item A and elsewhere assess the contribution to our understanding of functionalism on families and the household.

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´╗┐Using materials from Item A and elsewhere assess the contribution to our understanding of functionalism on families and the household. Functionalists argue that society is based on consensus and on social institutions such as schools, work, media, political and legal systems, religion and the friends and family each of which contribute positively to the maintenance of stability of society as a whole. It is said that these seven agents are to be vital functions for societies as a whole. But functionalists believe that families are most likely linked with education, the economy and religion. Broadly speaking it is assumed by functionalists that societies operate in the interests of all of their members so it is absolutely essential for individual happiness and wellbeing, and for the maintenance of society. Murdock & Parsons The two main Functionalist theorists who we associate with the family are G P Murdock and Talcott Parsons. They both believe that all people benefit from a family and that the family performs three vital functions. ...read more.


Within nuclear families, roles are allocated between husbands and wives in accordance with the assumed instrumental characteristics of males (which make them more suited to paid employment outside of the home) and the assumed expressive characteristics of females (which make them more suited to childcare and domestic work). Feminist Criticisms of Functionalist Theories of the Family There are divisions within feminism, mainly between liberal, radical and Marxist feminism but all feminists are critical in various respects of functionalist theories of the family. Feminist argue that: 1. gender differences in socialisation within the family and elsewhere operate to the disadvantage of females; 2. traditional roles allocated within the family show characteristics of males and females respectively but the existence of patriarchal power within the family; 3. that there is nothing "expressive" about many household tasks; 4. traditional allocation of gender roles restricts female employment opportunities and prospects; 5. when women are employed outside the home this may mean that they are obliged to undertake the so-called "triple shift" of employment, housework/childcare and emotion work; 6. ...read more.


They argue that the traditional housewife/mother role imposes unfair burdens on women but that their apparent readiness to accept this role provides services to their husbands at low cost which means that male workers can be employed at lower wages than would otherwise be possible so that women are , in effect, subsidising the capitalist system. And that it is women who are the main source within the family of emotional support and women who are the main victims of domestic abuse which may be caused ultimately by the frustrations generated by the capitalist system; Conclusion Functionalist sociologists have claimed optimistically that modern capitalist societies are essentially democratic, meritocratic and based upon consensus and that nuclear families contribute both to the happiness of their individual members and to the continued stability of societies as a whole. However they all assume that the traditional nuclear family is the dominant family type. They are all structural theories and all only focus on the positives and never the negatives in society. Also neglect the diversity of individuals within family arrangements. ...read more.

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