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Critically evaluate the functionalist view of the family.

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Introduction

Critically evaluate the functionalist view of the family. It is undoubted that functionalism has contributed to the general understanding of the family, even if you don't believe the functionalist view-point to be correct, it still plays an essential part in the topic of sociology by simply being there to conflict the Marxist view of the family. The functionalist view of society makes the assumption that every society has a range of basic needs. Functionalists would say that if these needs are being met then the society is functioning and it is more likely to survive over a longer period of time. Functionalist view is considered to be a consensus theory because it tends to accentuate the "need" for shared norms and values. ...read more.

Middle

The main point of Parsons views are that he believes the family still keeps two main functions, the first function according to Parsons is: The primary socialisation of children, this is widely believed to be the most important part of the socialisation process. Parsons says that everyone must learn the shared norms and values of society for there to be any form of consensus, if consensus did not exist then parson argues social life would not be possible. If this is taken one step further and societies shared norms and values are internalised and instilled into the younger generation then consensus is achieved and continues. Is possible for this to happen in every family though? ...read more.

Conclusion

Parsons thought that families help to stabilise adult personalities in two ways; partners in marriage provide each other with help emotionally, and that adults can still be "childish" because once that they have children this gives them a reason to "play". Parsons thinks that family life gives adults a chance to escape the stresses of there working life, and provides them with emotional back-up and support, it is argued that this helps stabilise the adults personality and in turn this stabilises society. Critics of Parsons would say that this is a very na�ve view of family life, and that actually if you asked some heads of families they would say that actually there is not a lot of emotional support for each other, some might even suffer abuse at the hands of their partners. ...read more.

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