Assess the Contribution of Functionalism to Our Understanding of Families and Households.

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Contributing what they have to offer to families and households is something that functionalists seem to do in a variety of ways. Functionalism is a consensus theory (as stated in Item A). This means that it argues society is built on a consensus, or a general agreement amidst members on how society should be ordered and organised. They believe that family is one of the pivotal social institutions (which are parts in society involved in the socialisation process) along with mass media, education and peer group). Functionalism looks at the family functions and jobs that they perform. The functionalist George Murdock believes that the nuclear family is universal, therefore meaning that it’s found worldwide, and that is the best family type/institution for performing the 4 functions that functionalists believe are the foundations of successful families. Sexual function (Staying with one sexual partner and fulfilling their sex drive, this is beneficial as it avoids conflict.) Economic function (administering food and shelter for members of your family, this is positive as it protects them and keeps them healthy). Reproductive function (Delivering the future generation, beneficial so that humans don’t die out).Educational function (Whereby you teach your offspring the norms and values in society this being profitable as your children will then be accepted into things such as education and will begin the education process of further things).

A strength of Murdock’s effort implies how the nuclear family operates functions to benefit both the individuals and society. This means that it is positive for everyone, and has a gratifying effect on everyone. However a weakness would be that he also ignores that other families (such as step families, extended families etc.). This means that he doesn’t take into account that they can also perform some of the functions. This is negative because it suggests that his ideas aren’t completely thorough or fair.

Talcott Parsons...
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