Functionalist sociologists agree the family is the key foundation to society.

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The Functions of the family

Functionalist sociologists agree the family is the key foundation to society. Family lifestyles play an important function for the protection of society, and mould its members. Murdock agrees that the family meets society essential needs.

Functionalists acknowledge the nuclear family as the model family type for society. According to Parsons the family has to shape society. Parsons classifies two kinds of family structure the nuclear and the extended family. Each family structure is best capable of meeting the requirements of industrial society.

According to functionalist society is made up of a consensus, individuals agree to the norms and values.

Murdock believes the family performs four essential functions, which meet society needs.

  • Stable satisfaction of the sex drive: staying with the same partner, preventing social disruption. When married couples stay committed to one another they are preventing marital breakdown.
  • Reproduction of the next generation: without family members society wouldn’t be continuing.
  • Socialisation of the young: parents share with children the rules and regulations of society.
  • Meeting the member’s economic need: society provides the essentials for its members, such as food and shelter.

Parsons believes society meets other functions. Family is structured in various forms, depending on the society will affect the shape. Parson perceives two different family structures:

  • The nuclear family: just two parents and dependent children
  • The extended family: of three generations living under one roof.
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The extended family best suits the geographical mobile workforce; this is because this family type was traditional during pre-industrial society. During this period of time, people often spent their existence living in the same village, stuck in the same occupation.  Society was constantly changing and becoming modern, factories and building were becoming developed; there was a wide range of jobs individuals could achieve towards.

Parsons argues that it was easier for the nuclear family to move, and they best suited the modern industry.

Social mobile workforce is based on a society which is constantly changing and evolving. It ...

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