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 to this theory.
He also presented another viewpoint on the family - that it provides emotional support for workers exploited by the system. In this way, it is seen in a positive manner as something that the supports the idea of class conflict, which Marxism is fundamentally based upon. The family was observed to provide a source of satisfaction that cannot be found in society as a whole, something that bears similarities to the functionalist 'warm bath theory'.
In conclusion, the Marxist view of the family is mostly negative. It sees many of the key features of the family as mechanisms of capitalist society, and differs greatly from other sociological theories such as functionalism, which presents a comforting image of the family. Critics of Marxist viewpoints include Somerville (2000), who claimed that Zaretsky did not take the element of the 'dark side of the family' into account when discussing its supportive qualities. Its extensive focus on class division could be seen as another negative feature of Marxist theory on family, as it appears to ignore other factors such as gender and ethnicity.
Here's what a teacher thought of this essay
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