Evaluate the contribution of Marxist thought and understanding of the development of the family

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Ajit Khela

Evaluate the contribution of Marxist thought and understanding of the development of the family

Overall Marxists see the family as serving to maintain the position of the ruling class. Marxists see the family as a very important institution for the ruling class as it creates part of the superstructure and therefore is responsible for passing on norms and values. However Marxist have developed a very negative view on the family and its teachings.

Marxists such as Fredrick Engel’s came up with the theory, “the origins of the family”, this was his idea of how the family developed throughout time and it gave an understanding of why it developed. Primitive Communism was stage 1 where property was owned collectively and there were no restrictions with sexual relationships and mainly an extended family. Then as the family moved through stages feudalism and then capitalism more restrictions were placed on the family such as sexual restrictions, this eventually led to the creation of the monogamous nuclear family. Engle’s saw the development of the monogamous nuclear family as reflecting the needs of male property owners to ensure that their private property was being passed onto the heirs, and the monogamous nuclear family provided tight control on women since they could only be married to one person at a time so this eliminates the possibility of more wife’s and making it difficult to decide which ones kids get the inheritance. However there is some room for criticism towards Engel’s since his work is based on assumptions he has never seen a woman from the pre industrial age in his life so he can’t make sounds judgements upon it.

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Marxists viewpoint is that the family helps maintain an unjust and exploitive system. Marxists see the family as maintaining capitalism by; reproducing labour power, consuming products of capitalism, providing emotion support, socialising children to accept inequalities of capitalist society, they believe this is one of the main functions of the family, which therefore keeps the status quo.

Radical feminists have another view of the family they believe that it is patriarchal they claim that within the family the majority of the domestic labour is done by women and it is also unpaid labour which therefore benefits capitalism. Radical feminist also ...

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