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Describe and discuss the Functionalist perspective in relation to the family.

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Introduction

´╗┐Amie Wright Mrs Livings Sociology. Describe and discuss the Functionalist perspective in relation to the family. The Functionalist view of the family is the idea of the nuclear family, which involves a husband and wife, with their children. Within in the family unit, each member has a role, this is like the Functionalist view on society, that every part of society has a certain function, with the analogy of the body, and the different parts work together to allow society to function efficiently. The Husband in the family has an instrumental role, geared towards working hard and achieving at work, he is the bread winner for the family, and the Wife, an expressive role, which involves primary socialisation of the children and meeting the family?s emotional needs, she is the homemaker and a full time house-wife, rather than a wage earner. These roles in the family are what sociologists call segregated conjugal roles. This means that the husband and wife spend their days, as well as leisure time apart. Functionalists argue that this division of labour is biologically suited to the husband and wife, with women being naturally suited to nurturing and caring, and men being able to provide for the family. ...read more.

Middle

Industrialisation leads also to processes of structural differentiation which implies that new more specialised social institutions such as factories, schools and hospitals develop to take over some of the functions previously performed by families; 3. This means therefore that the nuclear family loses some of its functions but it remains crucial in relation to the two functions which it does retain: the socialisation of the young and the stabilisation of adult relationships; 4. Within nuclear families, roles are allocated between husbands and wives in accordance with the instrumental characteristics of males [which make them more suited to paid employment outside of the home] and the expressive characteristics of females [which make them more suited to childcare and domestic work. Talcott Parsons, a key Functionalist, argues that the nuclear family setup provides a safe haven from the outside world, therefore allowing for better socialisation of children, he is criticised however, by other sociological views, such as Marxists or feminists, that not all family groups are a safe haven, and that his view of the family being positive and based on a consensus, is not always true. ...read more.

Conclusion

Feminists would argue that the Functionalist view of the family encourages oppression of women because they are not equal to men, and they are not given the same opportunities. Marxists argue that the Functionalist view of the family sees the family structure, the nuclear family, as a way of benefiting and supporting capitalism because it provides future generations with a certain perspective on society due to their particular upbringing; therefore it provides strict, compliant workers for the economy. To conclude, there are so many criticisms of the functionalist view because it was the first theory to analyse and recognise the wider social roles of the family. This has meant that other sociological views, such as Marxists and Feminists have had room to find fault. Functionalism has received criticism for neglecting the negative functions of an event in the family, such as divorce. Critics also claim that the perspective justifies the status-quo and continuity on the part of society's members. Functionalism does not encourage people to take an active role in changing their social environment, even when such change may benefit them. Instead, functionalism sees active social change as undesirable because the various parts of society will compensate naturally for any problems that may arise. ...read more.

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