• 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)

    Another enthusiast of the functionalist perspective was the sociologist Talcott Parsons. Parsons claimed the family has two basic and irreducible functions and these being primary socialisation of children and stabilisation of the adult personality.

  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. Main features of Functionalism.

    There is a pre-supposition here of three other systems: (a) A personality system, i.e. actors aiming for maximum gratification; (b) A cultural system, i.e. a system of wider values which gives coherence to the different norms attached to different status roles; and (c)

  2. Marxism and Functionalism and their contribution to sport.

    Not the sport or event itself will dominate, in fact media coverage, print and tv media, will have influence, for example the organisation of an event and the broadcasting times will have to coincide to make the most profit. The prices for broadcasting rights and player transfers have explosively increased

  1. Children are born to succeed or fail

    Males tend to go for managerial careers or work as a doctor, artist, engineer, or a politician for example. Females on the other hand are usually associated with household work, nursing, secretary and other office work, or a primary school teacher.

  2. Aesthetic Labour at 'Brewsters' family theme pub.

    by treating me less favourably through sexist preferences. Women are socially constructed as perceptually inferior in the power relationship as the 'the other', similar to Said's (1977) east as 'other' opposing the west. Although legalities are in place to prevent violations, in practice it is often difficult to prove a violation has occurred Feminists (e.g.

  1. Using poverty and domestic violence as examples, critically investigate the different roles that 'the ...

    Despite such findings, the prevalence of such studies into female behaviour has served to reinforce the belief of female provocation in common sense understandings of domestic violence. Interactional models of the family stress that both partners collude in the violence to some degree.

  2. 'The Family Friendly Firm'.

    There are new challenges for organisations because of globalisation, the drive for greater productivity and quality, and the need for a flexible workforce, which can respond rapidly to new 'technology and changing markets' (Lewis, 2001). Developments in technology are also driving change as it becomes increasingly feasible to exercise choice about where, as well as when, work is performed.

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