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Using material from Item B and elsewhere, assess the usefulness of functionalism for an understanding of the family

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Using material from Item B and elsewhere, assess the usefulness of functionalism for an understanding of the family The Functionalists see the family as an important and vital institution in society. They take a MACRO view and look at interdependence between the family and other organisations. Functionalists look at the positive parts to society but overlook the negatives. They emphasise on the value consensus and see the family as being universal. Other people's outlooks disagree with this view, such as the Marxists, the Marxist Feminists and the Radical Feminists. Item B describes the way in which functionalists view the functional pre-requisites or the essentials of societies if they are to survive. Functionalists' writers such as Murdock suggest that the nuclear family is such an important social institution, that it is found in some form in every single society. In other words, it is a universal institution. Murdock based his claims on the studies he completed on two hundred and fifty different cultures Murdock also suggests that functional pre-requisites must be met to ensure that society does not 'die out'. These four pre-requisites are; sexual, expressing sexuality in a socially approved context, reproduction, where the family provides some stability for the for the reproduction and rearing of children, socialisation, ...read more.


The husband carries out an instrumental role as the family breadwinner, which leads to stress and anxiety and threatens to destabilise his personality, but the wives expression role relives tension by providing love and understanding: the sexual division of labour into the 'expressive' and 'instrumental' roles therefore contributes to the stabilisation of human personalities. This theory has been referred to as the 'warm bath theory' as the family is supposed to have the ability to sooth away all the aches and pains which is theoretically supposed to derive from the instrumental role. However, now that role is out-dated it makes this theory less useful. Women now go out to work and therefore would share this instrumental role. He [Parsons] only rights about the middle class families in America, so therefore his opinion cannot be used across the board. He also overlooks family diversity, much as Murdock does, and does not consider situations like reconstituted or lone parent families. Parsons also assumes that all families get along, like all functionalists he over harmonies the good aspects of family life and pays no attention to the many bad points that families occur. ...read more.


The amount of diversity and variation within the family has changed so much, and not only has it changed it has become socially acceptable. A major cause in the soaring rates of lone parent families has been the sharp rise in divorce rates, 75 percent of these being initiated by women unhappy with their expressive roles as mother and carer, women now want equality - to have the same rights and responsibilities that men are allowed, to be able to have a career to have the option to chose. Functionalisation may be out dated but a movement has started to take it place - this is the New Right movement. These ideas were formulated in the 80s and 90s, and are based on functionalist views; however the New Right takes into account some of the family diversity that families face today solely because it was written when various family types were starting to be socially acceptable - therefore their opinions had to reflect the changing society if they were to be taken seriously. Therefore the newer up dated version of functionalisation is more useful than the original ideas and theories. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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