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To what extent do Contemporary Sociologists see the Modern Family as a Haven from the Outside World?

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To what extent do Contemporary Sociologists see the Modern Family as a Haven from the Outside World? Until recently, sociological studies of the family have concentrated upon the role of the family within society. Contemporary sociologists however have shown an increasing interest in the emotional relationships within the family unit. This is an important issue in sociology when looking at the role of the family, as the family is the only institution in society providing affection and emotional support. There is no other specialised unit that does this. Most sociological perspectives view the family as a haven, compensating individuals for the harsh, cruel and potentially psychologically damaging reality of the outside world. The view that the family is a haven is mainly from a functionalist perspective. Marxists agree to a lesser extent whilst feminists certainly oppose such views. There are traditional views on the family like that of Talcott Parsons', and critics of this view who view the family as a prison, such as Morgan, and feminist Anne Oakley. Perhaps the most famous theory of the family is the view held by functionalist sociologist Talcott Parsons. ...read more.


Those further down the social scale often find society opposing their interests. Life ends up as a struggle, which in turn leads to stresses and strains within the family. Morgan also argued that even within the family inequalities exist. Family members have their own interests and aspirations. "For whom is the family functional?" asks Morgan. It is usually the male head of the household who is well served by the functions of the family. Marxists also state that the family should not have to be seen as a haven from a capitalist society, that capitalism takes creativity and affection out of society, and steals away opportunities for personal growth. Barrett and McIntosh studied this in their work "The Anti-social family". They developed the concept of familialism, the ideology that the family is a small, isolated, conjugal unit where the husband is the breadwinner, the wife a domestic goddess and the children as happy, smiley and well behaved. What advertisers term "the cornflake family" has been put upon a pedestal and advocated as the normal and proper way to live. Barrett and McIntosh argued that this could make the family a prison in that any member who does not "fit in" will be repressed, and that individual can in turn become psychologically damaged. ...read more.


Feminism has helped highlight many issues facing women within society, but perhaps one of the biggest issues feminists have highlighted is that domestic abuse and violence. This puts more emphasis on the family being a prison because those people living within this environment are far from the safety of a haven. There has been much difficulty in researching this because many women are too afraid to speak out. In conclusion, to a large extent, functionalists view the family as a haven because it provides stabilisation of adult personalities in order to cope with day-to-day life. However, if a family is dysfunctional then this can make the family a prison. Marxists do not see why the family should be seen as a haven, but agrees that the family is a panacea from a capitalist society, and at best a challenge to capitalism. Feminists on the other hand do not view the family as a haven in any way. They see the family as a place in which there are inequalities that cause the oppression of women. Indeed the family is also an environment that can be far from safe, where women, and children are at risk from abuse. Sociologists do recognise that families do vary and what may be seen as a haven by some may be far from the reality for others. ...read more.

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