Sociology is the subject which looks at the social world around us, how the social world works and how it effects and influences our daily lives. People tend to accept the social arrangements in which they grew up as normal or too complicated to understand. The family is the natural way to bring up children and schools are the normal places for children to learn. For most people the social world is just there, challenging their lives, they cannot change it and it is not really worth while trying to understand it. There is a consequence of that argument, which is when people try to understand their place in society, rich or poor, isolated or popular; they usually do so by saying it is their personal abilities, weaknesses and situations that cause them to be as they are. Sociologists do not fully agree with this, they regard it as their job to understand society and the way it affects different people. They do this by using certain concepts such as, values, beliefs, norms and identity, they also look at different theories, which are explanations that link together social events and show how the social events have different effects on different people. Within this essay the writer will be looking at functionalism, feminism and Marxism and how the different aspects affect people and how they impact on the family and household. Family and household are two different things, a household simply means one or more person living in the same home, where as a family typically means a group of people related by ceremonial and or blood ties, living together or in frequent contact. (Moore, 2001) The functionalist perspective is one of the main theoretical perspectives within sociology. It has its origins in the likes of Emile Durkheim, who was especially interested in how social order is possible and how it remains relatively stable. Functionalism was the dominant branch of western sociology until the 1960s, since when it has been increasingly criticised by sociologists, favouring different sociological perspectives. Functionalists argue that “societies consist of inter-related social institutions such as schools, mass media, political systems and the family each of which contribute positively to the maintenance of stability of society as a whole.” (earlyhamsociologypages.co.uk, 2011) These institutions are said to be functional for societies as a whole. Broadly speaking it is assumed by functionalists that societies operate in the interests of all of their members so that there is no reason for fundamental conflict in society. Instead there is a high degree of consensus that societies are organised efficiently and relatively fairly.
Functionalists believe every institution in society contributes to the smooth running of society as a whole. To functionalists the family is at the heart of the family. Murdock claimed that “the nuclear family is so useful to society that it is inevitable and universal, appearing everywhere” (historylearningsite.com, 2012). Murdock claimed that he had found evidence of nuclear families in the 250 societies he studied. The family is universal because it fulfils essential functions for the family, such as sexual, which controls sexuality and provides stability for adults, reproduction, which provides new members of society, economical, the family provides for its members and education, the family socialises the young into society’s norms and values. They are essential for social life since without the sexual and reproductive functions there would be no members of society, without the economic function (for example, the provision and preparation of food) life would cease, and without education a term Murdock uses for socialization there would be no culture. Human society without culture could not function. (historylearningsite.com, 2012).parsons states there are two irreducible functions of the family, these functions are primary socialisation, through which children learn to accept the norms and values of...
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