Outline and evaluate the functionalist view of the role of the family

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Outline and evaluate the functionalist view of the role of the family

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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 – function. Next Functionalists explain the family also provides the function of economic provision. The family provide a shelter, food, financial support and comfort for the sick. Without the family providing this function I don’t believe society would survive as who else would be able to provide the support they already do. Society will benefit from this as people are happy as they are getting the help they need to work hard and poverty can be stopped. Finally the last function they do provide is the function of education. The family offer primary socialisations were children are taught the norms and values of today’s society. They teach them how to behave in a suitable way, so they can fit in to societies functions. Everyone from this learns the same norms and values meaning society won’t go in to a state of chaos. Functionalists believe the family can stop the next generation from performing any defiant acts as they are teaching them the norms in which they should try to conform too so they can fit into today’s society.

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Talcott Parsons, a functionalist says the family provide two basic functions which no other institution can. Primary socialisation and emotional gratification or the stabilisation of adult personalities. The family provides stability and emotional support to the next generation and to all members of the family. It helps its members of society get away from their stresses in life. This theory is known as the warm bath theory were the family can help with its members stresses such as hard work, deadlines and money. The family comforts its members and helps them with everything they need. If the family did ...

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Overall this essay covers the basics well and makes good comparisons between Functionalism and Marxism. It would be stronger by applying more Feminism to the discussion and also sometimes the expression could be a little more formal. Mark: ****