Assess the contribution of functionalism to our understanding of families and households.

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Using material from Item A and elsewhere assess the contribution of functionalism to our understanding of families and households.

Functionalists believe that society is based on value consensus so we all share the same norms and values. They also believe that society is made up of different parts and that we all work together much like a human body. Functionalists take a very positive view on the family as they think it is one of the main institutions that keep society together.

As item A states, George Murdock believes that the family has four functions for both society as a whole and for individual members. These functions are reproduction, stabilisation, socialisation and meeting economic needs. Because of these four functions he believes the family is universal. However he only focuses on the nuclear family and doesn’t take in to consideration other family types. An example of how his theory has been criticised is the kibbutz where they separated children from their parents to try and produce gender equalities. In this society the only function that was carried out was reproduction therefore the family is not universal.

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Another view on the family is Talcott Parsons functional fit theory. He believes that the different types of family fits different the type of society. He focuses largely on the nuclear family and the extended family. He stated that the nuclear family was best suited for industrial society because they can be a geographically mobile workforce and a socially mobile workforce because the family is smaller it can move to where the jobs are easier.

However other sociologists contradict Parsons theory. Sociologists Young and Willmott state that pre industrial families were nuclear with parents and children working together. They ...

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