Examine the contribution of functionalist explanations towards an understanding of the family
JOHN SMYTH SOCIOLOGY ESSAY (1500 words) EXAMINE THE CONTRIBUTION OF FUNCTIONALIST EXPLANATIONS TO AN UNDERSTANDING OF THE FAMILY Functionalists believe that the family is a positive institution and view the ideal modern family as being the Nuclear Family. The nuclear family is described by Giddens (1989, p385) as a family 'which consists of two adults living together in a household with their own or adopted children'. Abercrombie et al (2006 p168) defines the nuclear family as 'Social units comprising a man and a woman living together with their children' Regardless of individuals definitions of what the nuclear family is, it is perceived as a family consisting of a father, mother and their children.The functionalist view (most popular in the 1960's) of the nuclear family comprises of a breadwinner husband and dependant wife and children - the 'cereal packet family' (Leach 1968) - this view of the family is also taken by sociologists like Murdock and Parsons. Functionalists take a consensus approach towards society and believe social institutions such as a family play an important part - i.e. the family makes a positive contribution towards society. Although Murdock and Parsons put across are similar themes - they believe that a nuclear family is best suited for a healthy society. Functionalists see the family as essential to the smooth running of society, therefore they
Outline and evaluate the functionalist view of the role of the family in society [33 marks]
Outline and evaluate the Functionalist view of the role of the family in society [33 marks] Murdock, a functionalist, describes the family as a universal institution based on the nuclear family model. The functionalist view of the role of the family in society is that it maintains social order. The family is a tool for socialisation and a key social institution in sustaining the value consensus. Murdock identified four main functions of the family: the sexual, reproductive, economic and educational. These four functions cover the role of the family in society. The sexual and reproductive functions are what keep society populated—if they became dysfunctional then society would not have the people inhabiting it. The economic function is the parent’s responsibility to take care of their family financially, usually through the division of labour where the man will take on the instrumental role and provide for the family while the woman will adopt the expressive role and take care of the home and family members. Marxists would contest this viewpoint—arguing that the division of labour is capitalist dogma used to control the labour force and stop them from developing consciousness. The final function identified by Murdock was the educational functional—this is the socialisation function of the family. It is this function that maintains the value consensus which allows
Assess the extent to which roles within the family are becoming more equal or shared
‘Assess the extent to which roles within the family are becoming more equal or shared’ There are many different opinions regarding the hierarchy of a family. As society has developed through the ages, numerous additions to the standard nuclear family have arisen. Because of this, sociologists are often coming up with new theories, including how power is shared within those families. In this essay I will be evaluating various judgements belonging to sociologists, regarding gender roles and whether influence is evenly distributed throughout families. Barrett and McIntosh state that men gain much more from women doing domesticated jobs than they give back in financial support from being the main breadwinner. This suggests that they believe women are the ones that really do the important things such as maintaining the home and looking after children. Following on from this, they also think that the financial support provided by the men often comes with ‘strings attached’, so the women have to find a way to repay their husbands and show their gratitude. Also, they believe that men are the ones that usually take charge when making important decisions. This collaboration seems to have a feminist perspective because their beliefs suggest that men hold women back and do not allow them to become their own person in the way they should. A criticism is that this feminist view
Examine the ways in which laws and social policies affect family life.
Examine the ways in which laws and social policies affect family life. (24 marks, 14 AO1, 10 AO2) A social policy is a law implemented by the government to benefit society. These social policies have attempted to promote the nuclear family, such as those introduced by New Labour (although they are more accepting of family diversity than conservatives) and the Conservative government. The Child Support Act supports the conventional family by making the father provide for his children, even when he is absent - thus reinforcing the natural role of the breadwinner. Changes to taxes in 1988 also tried to reinforce the conventional families by not allowing cohabiting couples to claim more tax than married couples, and prevented them from claiming mortgage relief as two people, meaning married people are better off with their taxes. Maternity and paternity leave also reinforce the conventional nuclear family type, as maternity leave is far longer than paternity leave; this assumes that the mother is the primary caretaker of the child (this is not the case in Sweden, where both parents are treated as equal caretakers and income earners). Both New Right and New Labour are in favour of the nuclear family because they view it as the best way for a child to be adequately socialised. The New Right view the division of labour as natural and based on biology; when these roles are
Critically examine the Functionalist idea that the nuclear family exists for the benefit of everyone.
Critically examine the Functionalist idea that the nuclear family exists for the benefit of everyone The Functionalist sociologist, Murdock (1949) defined the family as a social group characterised by common residence, economic co-operation and reproduction. He claimed it must include adults of both sexes of whom maintain a socially accepted sexual relationship, and own or adopted, of the sexually cohabiting adults. Murdock's definition is focuses on the Nuclear family stereotypically made up of a two-generation family: heterosexual couple with offspring. This definition of the family is popular among right wing sociologists who believe it is the ideal type of family unit that people should aspire to have. They argue this because they believe the nuclear family is the best type of family for the individual and for society. This is why they encourage it and regard it as the most beneficial family structure. They believe that it is the nuclear family unit by which the process of socialisation is transmitted at it's strongest with the most benefit for society. However, functionalists tend to see the family as harmonious but this is simply not the case in society today. Feminist criticise the functionalist view on the nuclear family by arguing that the nuclear family doesn't suit everyone within the family unit and is more damaging than it is beneficial. Sociologists use the
Outline and evaluate the functionalist view of the role of the family
Outline and evaluate the functionalist view of the role of the family 24 marks Functionalist sociologists believe that people have a range of basic needs that must be met if society is to run smoothly. Different groups and individuals in society are important because they perform certain functions which meet society's needs. Functionalism supports the family in nearly every way, to the support it offers to the next generation and the way it teaches them the four functions they need to survive. In analysing the family, functionalists concern themselves with two main areas. The functions that the family provides and the relationship between the family and other institutions. They suggest the family provides four main functions that help society and its individual members. Firstly they say the family provides the sexual function, this means married adults enjoy a healthy sex life preventing from social distributions such as rape. Society can run much more smoothly from this as this means less rape crime. Secondly they say the family provide the reproductive function, producing the next generation for society. Society can benefit from this as they can take the next generation and fit them in to the jobs that need filling, without any children society couldn't survive at all. Everyone in society has a role to fulfil. Doing these makes society work effectively meaning a re -
Examine the factors affecting the domestic division of labour and power relations between couples.
Examine the factors affecting the domestic division of labour and power relations between couples. Domestic division of labour is the division of tasks, roles and duties, within the household. With the increased entry of married women into formal employment, sociologists began to look more closely at the processes that linked home and workplace, including the question of whether or not women's increased involvement in paid labour led to a renegotiation of the traditional domestic roles and organization of domestic labour. A major characteristic of the symmetrical family outlined by Young and Willmott was the degree to which spouses shared domestic work and leisure activities. In Young and Willmott's stage 2 family, conjugal roles were largely segregated. There was a clear cut division of labour between spouses in the household and the husband was relatively uninvolved with domestic chores and raising the children. The wife is associated mainly with her female kin and neighbours and the husband with his male workmates, kin and neighbours. In the stage 3 symmetrical families, conjugal roles become joint, however the wife still has primary responsibility for housework and child rearing, husbands become more involved, often washing clothes, ironing and sharing other domestic duties. Husband and wife shared responsibility for decisions that affect the family; they discuss matters
Using material from item A and elsewhere, assess the contribution of functionalism to our understanding of families and households
Examining the Functions of the Family . Explain what is meant by consensus? Consensus is an agreement among a majority of members of society that something is good and worthwhile, it’s a set of shared norms and values, into which society socialises it’s members . Identify the two essential functions that Parsons sees the nuclear family as performing? 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 a value consensus; this is a set of shared norms and values into which society socialises its members. This enables society to work harmoniously and meet its needs and goals. Functionalists view society as being made up of a number of sub-systems that are dependent upon each other. These can include the education system, media, religion, and the economy. Just as the human body is dependent upon each of the functions in order to survive, society is dependent on each of the sub-systems. The family meets some of society’s essential needs by socialising children. This is regarded as a basic building block of society. Murdock argues that the family performs four essential functions to meet the needs of society and its members. These include; stable satisfaction of the sex drive, reproduction of the next generation, socialisation of the young
Outline and evaluate the Marxist view of the family
Outline and evaluate the Marxist view of the family Marxism looks at the methods of control of the ruling class (bourgeoisie) in determining the way society is organized. The family is seen as part of the structure of society and is one of a number of social institutions which help maintain the capitalist system. Marxists state that it is the requirements of this system that has come to shape the family in modern societies. From a Marxist perspective, society revolves around the infrastructure and social superstructure. The superstructure maintains the infrastructure whilst the infrastructure shapes the superstructure. The family helps to maintain this system. Friedrich Engels' 1884 study provides a basis for the Marxist view of the family. Engels aimed to trace its origin through time, and found that changes to the structure of the family were strongly linked to the evolution of the capitalist system. He also explored the concept of monogamy and argued that the monogamous nuclear family developed with the emergence of private ownership of the 'means of production'. Engels stated that this system is maintained by the socialisation of capitalist social norms and values. Marxists do not see this as benefiting the family at all, only the system, and therefore this helps support their theory that the family exists as a largely negative institution. Zaretsky (1979) looked at