Outline and evaluate the Marxist view of the family

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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.

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Zaretsky (1979) looked at the change in the family from a unit of production to a unit of consumption. Like Engels, he noted that socialisation was used to instill values and norms applicable to the system of capitalism. He saw the family as a tool of capitalist society that is vital for its survival, and observed how many features of the modern family supported it, like spending on leisure activities and encouraging aspirations such as owning a house and attaining wealth. The fact that the capitalist system has endured for so long would suggest that there is some truth ...

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A brief but effective piece of work regarding Marxism and the family. The theory was outlined well, and there was good use of other theorists to critique/support it. The writer evidenced clear knowledge of not just Marxism but Functionalism also. Consider how you could develop the work regarding Marx's narrow focus on class - why exactly is it a weakness? 5/5