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The Family

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The Family The family is regarded by many sociologists as the cornerstone of society. It is frequently described as the basic unit of social organization. The smallest family unit is known as the nuclear family, it consists of a husband and wife and their siblings, all other units who are related to the nuclear family are called the extended family. This definition of the family is a typical version, often referred to as the ideal type or "cereal packet" family. Throughout society the structure of the family may vary. In general the family is an institution common to every known society and as such performs important functions for its members and for society as a whole. There are many different sociological perspectives in relation to the family regarding its structure and what functions it performs for both the individual and society at large. Some sociologists see the family as a positive unit; others would disagree and prefer to highlight the negative aspects of the family, and some try to capture the middle ground, by examining both the positive and negative aspects. The Functionalist perspective takes the view that the cereal packet family is the norm and should be something to aspire to. Functionalist's have a macro outlook as they focus on the various parts of society (in this case the family) relate to each other as so to maintain the stability or order of society as a whole. ...read more.


They see the family as child centered, and argue that the family combines strong discipline with individualism. They Bergers claim to capture the middle ground by stressing both the beneficial aspects and showing an awareness of the critical views of the family, but they can be criticized for the following reasons, they fail to examine the possible psychological problems of the family that occur (as has been suggested by other sociologists) and do not place much importantance to the extent to which the family may restrict women. The Burgers analysis potrays the family as both functional for its members and society in whole. This analysis is regarded by some sociologists, as being naive in its outlook and perhaps outdated. The interactionist perspective offered by sociologists such as Edward Leach (A Runaway World), R.D Laing (The Politics of the Family) looks at the small-scale interaction between individual members of the family unit. (Micro in outlook.) Unlike functionalists, interactionists would be critical in their view of the family. They suggest that the family may be dysfunctional both for society and the individual members. Leach offers a pessimistic view of the family in industrial society. Leach, an anthropologist has in the past studied small-scale pre-industrial societies. His study is based on comparisons, of the pre-industrial society and the modern industrial society. He found that the nuclear family was isolated and the emotional strain was so great, that he described the family as an overloaded electrical circuit. ...read more.


Therefore the capitalist society is not threatened. Both Kathy Mcfee and Myrna Wood make similar points in their discussions, They claim "The petty dictatorship which most men exercise over their wives and families enables them to vent their anger and frustration in a way which poses no challenge to the system. Diane Feeley looks at the socialization of children; she sees the family with its " authoritarian ideology, is designed to teach passivity, not rebellion." Therefore children learn to accept parental authority and emerge from the family preconditioned to accept their place in the hierarchy of power and control in the capitalist society. In general the feminist perspective presents the family as negative and critical, because it exploits women and benefits the capitalist society. It is clear that the functionalist perspective provides a positive, idealized picture of society emphasizing the universal necessity for the family and the vital functions which it provides to both the individual and society in whole Functionalists having been accused of seeing the family through rose-tinted spectacles and are strongly criticized for their little attempt, to actually investigate the less savory aspects regarding family life and also for failing to explore any viable alternatives to the nuclear family. Feminists, Marxists, and interrectionists each provides alternative images of the family, presenting the point of view that the family is, or at least can be, explotive, violent and psychologically damaging to the individual family member and to society in whole, thus shattering the cosy functionalist image, which assumes that family life is all sweetness and light. ?? ?? ?? ?? 9 0 ...read more.

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