Explain and discuss why the definition of family is problematic from the perspectives of history, ideology and policy. How does violence within families challenge the functionalist approach to family?
I am discussing how history, ideology and policy perspectives establish problems with the definition of family. My main focus will be identifying how family violence and abuse within families challenge the functionalist approach to family. The definition of ‘family’ is extremely broad; however I will only be focusing on the functionalist approach which is the nuclear family. Functionalists believe that the nuclear family is the ‘ideal’ family type and is seen as the traditional family. The history perspective will explore how domestic violence has become more of a problem throughout the year. I will include how domestic violence has appeared to increase over the years which also link with policy and ideology because there are new laws linked to domestic violence and theorists such as feminists who have spoken up about domestic violence. History is used ideologically to produce policies for the present. Ideology will focus on different peoples beliefs on the definition of family and the effect domestic violence can have on a functionalist approach to family. The perspective of policy will concentrate on new laws that have been put in place which have a positive effect on the damage of domestic violence. A policy perspective also emphasises how important these laws have become and the effect it has had on the functionalist approach to family. An understanding of the past and present helps society to understand where present policies and ideologies have been produced. All of these perspectives have a connection with one another, for example, throughout history there have been new policies put in place to help decrease domestic violence. Domestic violence can be described as violent, threatening behaviour or abuse between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members. According to 2009/10 British Crime Survey, nearly 1 million women experience at least one incident of domestic abuse each year. The abuse can be physical, sexual, financial, emotional and psychological. A definition of domestic violence was developed by the Oregon Domestic Violence Council (1995, 3) as “a pattern of coercive behaviour used by one person to control and subordinate another in an intimate relationship. These behaviours include physical, sexual, emotional, and economic abuse. Tactics of coercion, terrorism, degradation, exploitation, and violence are used to engender fear in the victim in order to enforce compliance’. Dallos & McLaughlin (1993, p11), suggest that there is a key ‘subjective’ element in the definition in the extent to which a couple agree that a form of behaviour is acceptable in their relationship. A feminist approach, stated on woman’s aid, quotes ‘Domestic violence is physical, sexual, psychological or financial violence that takes place within an intimate or family-type relationship and that forms a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour. This can include forced marriage and so-called 'honour crimes'. Domestic violence may include a range of abusive behaviours, not all of which are in themselves inherently 'violent'. Mooney (2000, p24) tells us that since the 1970s, domestic violence has been ‘increasingly recognised as a serious social problem’. This shows that society is becoming more aware that domestic violence is a serious common crime. In the past, domestic violence was accepted throughout history therefore the ideology of domestic abuse was different to the ideology of it today. Dobash (2000: 190) state “From late medieval times to well into the nineteenth century, the ‘nagging’ or ‘disobedient wife could be subjected to punishments such as the ducking stool or branks bridle which were meant to restore domestic order and the authority of the husband’. This demonstrates how domestic violence was...
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