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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 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. ...read more.


Child abuse is another reason for the family not doing its functions correctly. Functionalism says that the family provides emotional gratification to its members but child abuse does not fit into this. No love or comfort is shown when a child is actually being abused, so is this function actually being done properly? Next Functionalists say the family provides the sexual function to the best of its ability. But this is not always right as there can be rape in marriages. These are not usually reported as a couple may be married and the husband and wife may think it's their fault it happened to them. Parsons can too be criticised for being sexist as he says that men are the instrumental role of the family and women the expressive role. This is not always true as some men are house husbands and the wife is the breadwinner. Furthermore a man may be a lone parent meaning he does the entire expressive role too and looking after his children. Times have changed of the years meaning men and women's roles have become more mixed. ...read more.


The nuclear family reinforces the inequality between classes in society. Through the nuclear family, richer families are able to pass on wealth and advantage to their family members, while poorer families will not be able to provide the same opportunities. Such as paying for the same opportunities like paying tor the child to go to college or university or may not be able to go abroad because it costs too much. This type of family keeps the work of the bourgeoisie and capitalism going. This family is not universal as nowadays we begin to see more lone parent families. The functionalist view if the family is that the family provides all the functions which the next generation need to be able to know such as norms and values of today's society. We may not be able to work in society without the existence of the family as they help towards the capitalist society. Although this may be beneficial, the Marxists criticise this as the ruling class benefit most from the family while they make money the family earns a less well off income especially working class families. All sociologists have different views and they will never agree what is right or wrong with the family. But one thing they can agree on is without the family, society would not survive. ...read more.

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

4 star(s)

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: ****

Marked by teacher Matthew Wilkin 09/03/2013

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