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

Evaluate the view that functionalism "ignores the problems that in reality underpin family life"

Extracts from this document...


Evaluate the view that functionalism "ignores the problems that in reality underpin family life" The view that functionalism ignores "the problem that in reality underpin family life" started when functionalists such as Parsons were initiating their theories of the family. Parsons sees the nuclear family as a system or affective relationships, which meet basic human needs for love and intimacy. Marriage is seen as a source of companionship, emotional gratification and psychological support. The nuclear unit is seen as good for society and for the individuals who comprise it. The precedence of the nuclear family was largely unquestioned. However, this positive picture of nuclear family life has come under sustained attack in the last thirty years. Many commentators suggest that this rosy picture obscure the problems that in reality underpin family life and which have very negative consequences for some individuals. Here, as in all areas of sociology, functionalist perspectives have been blamed of having a traditional bias. With their accentuation on the universality and predetermination of the family, they warrant its existence. With their engrossment with the positive aspects of the family, they render it with legitimisation. ...read more.


This secure image has been shattered by sociologists and psychiatrists who have studied some of the less savoury aspects of life in families. In R.D. Laing's studies of schizophrenia (Laing, 1976, Laing and Esterson, 1970), feminist studies of domestic violence, and Marxist and feminist research on labour and power within households, an contrary image to the family has been presented. From this point of view the family is, or at least can be, exploitative, violent and psychologically damaging. George Peter Murdock's view of the universal functions of the family are also criticised as Murdock argued that his analysis provides a "conception of the family's many-sided utility and thus of its inevitability". He concluded, "no society has succeeded in finding an adequate substitute for the nuclear family, to which it might transfer these functions. It is highly doubtful whether any society will ever succeed in such an attempt." Murdock's picture of the family is a multifunctional institute, which is essential to society. Its "many sided utility" accounts for its universality and its inevitability. However, in his eagerness for the family Murdock did not seriously contemplate whether other social institutes could accomplish its functions and he does not examine alternatives to the family. ...read more.


Parsons view of the socialisation process can be criticised. He sees it as a one way process, with the children being pumped full of culture and their personalities being forged by forceful parents. He tends to ignore the two-way communication process between parents and children. There is no place in his scheme for the children who twist their parents around their little finger. Parsons sees the family as a special institution, which is distinctly separated from other aspects of the social life. Some contemporary perspectives on the family reject that such clear-cut boundaries can be established. The family as such cannot therefore be seen as performing any particular functions on its own in isolation from other institutions. They fail to realise that the family may well be dysfunctional both for society and individual members. That the demands made upon the family are too great and fuses blow. Another point they fail to acknowledge is that in their isolation, family members expect and demand too much from each other. All of these things can result is conflict. The tensions and hostility produced within the family find expression throughout society. The family creates barriers between them and the wider society. All of these are some of the disadvantages of the family that the functionalists fail to acknowledge. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Sociology 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 GCSE Sociology essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Assess the contribution of functionalism to our understanding of the family.

    4 star(s)

    However, his belief that its remaining functions are 'basic and irreducible' prevents him from examining alternatives. Significant to his criticism, his view of socialisation can be questioned. He sees it as a one-way process, with the children being pumped full of culture and their personalities being moulded by powerful parents.

  2. Is George Murdock's 'Nuclear Family' still, the norm in British society?

    so can marry later, or even not at all if they wish, as they can support themselves and their offspring.

  1. 'Examine the view that the traditional nuclear family is in decline'

    Many sociologists argue that industrialisation and modernisation has had the biggest influence on the family. This theory is not as clear-cut as it first may seem as modernisation and industrialisation take place at different times in different societies, with some countries taking great leaps in technology and some taking a

  2. Main features of Functionalism.

    And for Parsons, a system of action is made up of relations between actors. The emphasis changes here from voluntarism to the way systems of action limit and even determine individual choices. Parsons assumes that each actor aims for maximum gratification, and if he engages in interaction with another and receives gratification, he will repeat the action.

  1. Marxism and Functionalism and their contribution to sport.

    Concentration on ongoing commercialisation in and of sport is another key issue within Marxism and sport. Having identified that turning leisure into a marketing product is just another form of financial exploitation. Merchandising, ticket sales, turning clubs into a public limited companies and sponsorship are a further source of making profit.

  2. In this assignment I intend to thoroughly research the theory of Functionalism of the ...

    The bourgeoisie imposed their own idea of a family upon the masses: a mother and father and their children - the nuclear family. The view of the nuclear family comprises of a breadwinner husband and dependant wife and children. Sociologists in particular have developed this approach, in particular Murdock, Parsons and Goode.

  1. Children are born to succeed or fail

    It refers to the way a society encourages and teaches the two sexes to behave in different ways through socialisation. Whereas sex refers to the natural or biological differences between men and women, such as differences in genitals, internal reproductive organs and body hair.

  2. Gender Socialisation

    I think housework is much more equally shared out today as men are less sexist than before and there are more women working now so sometimes men have to overlook what people say and look after the children or even be the "house husband" for sometime or maybe always.

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