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 involves family members who have certain skills in order to achieve to their highest potential. Social mobile workforce enables members to progress and is able to accomplish towards a promotion. This is known as an achieved status.
However not everyone agrees with the functionalist perspective. Marxists and feminists reject the statements about the benefits of the nuclear family.
According the Marxists they see society based on capitalism. One class takes advantages of the other, through labour. Marxist believes families cooperate simply for the benefit of the capitalist system.
Marxist acknowledges several reasons as, to why they believe family life role is to fulfil capitalism:
- Inheritance of property: Marxist believes the status determines your family structure. The capitalist class exploits the working class, they own society production. Such as machinery, raw materials and land. When society was class less “primitive communism”, individuals did not own land privately all members shared their property.
Engels called this period “Promiscuous horde”; there were no limitations on sexual relationships
As society began to develop so did wealth. When individual’s wealth began to increase so did the increase in private property. Men wanted control of their production, if the promiscuous horde continued, men wouldn’t be sure of their heir. This brought on the nuclear family; men had to be certain on their children, which insured they were entitled to their property and inheritance.
- Ideological functions: according to Marxist family enforce a set of beliefs and ideas to excuse unfairness and maintain the idea of capitalism.
Parents convince children into believing the idea of hierarchy. Parents have the power over their children. They are influencing their children into believing that, there is always going to be someone in charge.
Zaretsky disagree with the functionalist approach because the family does not meet each others needs. They enforce that the main purpose of a women is to a homemaker.
- Unit of consumption: The capitalist exploit the working class, by making a profit out of their hard work. The family plays an important role in these goods, because it is buying the goods. Advertisers promote their products; children want to buy the latest gadget in order to keep up with other children their age group. The media target children to persuade parents to buy the products.
Marxist acknowledges the family performing many functions such as inheritance, inequality and profits. The Marxist understand the benefits of the capitalists, they do not believe they benefit all family members.
Feminist believe nuclear family are oppressive on women. Nuclear family share gender inequality which is created by society.
Feminist believe in several different types:
- Liberal feminist: campaign against sexual discrimination and for equal rights. They argue that oppression is slowly changing because women legally have equal rights during marriage and employment. Women more or less receive the same wage as men. Some women have achieved a higher status then men.
Liberal feminist believe in moving forward and believe in changing society’s attitude. They do not believe that gender equality is respected in all families, but it is slowly changing. Men are doing more domestic household work then in the past.
- Marxist feminism: believe men do not create the problem within society. The reason why there is inequality is because of capitalism. Women reproduce the force by socialising the current generation, which continuing to raise and guide their current generation. Women absorb anger. Ansley describes woman as “takers of shit” they soak up anger and problems. Women are used for cheap labour, they are only used when there extra work needs to be done, one their role is completed they are let go.
Marxist sees the oppression of women in the family but only acknowledges the problem being related to capitalism.
- Radical feminism: believe that society is ruled by men. Men are the enemy they are the source of women’s oppression. The nuclear family is a disadvantage because men benefit from unpaid domestic labour.
The only way oppression can be over come is if women live on their own and away from men. Radical feminist believe women will be able to achieve a higher status if workforces separated. If women were to only work together, there is more of an accomplishment receiving a promotion.
- Difference feminism: believe we can not generalise women’s experiences. Lesbians, and heterosexual women, women from different nationalities and ethnicities, women from different classes, have different experiences from one another.
For instance black feminist believe apart from oppression, white feminist neglect the experiences black women have gone through.
There are major differences between the functionalist perspectives of families. Nuclear family is important, it is not the only family type present within society, more people now live in other types of families such as lone parent households, divorce extended, and step families.
Feminist and Marxist believe in family diversity, disagreeing with the functionalist approach. They do not consider the nuclear family as the “ideal” family.
However, sociologists still acknowledge the great oppression and inequality in family life.