Family Perspectives

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  • Topic: Sociology, Family, Structural functionalism
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My Perspectives on Family

SOC 101: Introduction to Sociology

August, 2, 2010

After countless hours of researching The Functionalist, Conflict, and Interactionist Perspectives, I now see just how similar and how very different they are in relation to family. Society is given to separation based on personal beliefs, functions, color, creed, etc. The given perspectives show how societies as a whole view their socialistic status.

The three given perspectives are divided among groups who feel we all work together in an assembly-line fashion to achieve a common goal, groups who feel that we only succeed through struggles with one another, and groups who feel that we as a society need both goals and struggles in order to succeed as a nation.

In order to fully understand how these perspectives are different, I had to first figure out just how they were alike. When it comes to family, as I discovered, there were very few similarities between the three perspectives. Only The Functionalist Perspective really speaks of the family as a unit.

According to Sociology: Concepts and Applications in a Diverse World, “the family provides for the bearing and rearing of children until they can live on their own. The major criticism to that however, is that it could disrupt social equilibrium rather than contribute to it, for example, encouraging large families in a society that is already overpopulated.” (Sullivan, T. (2007) Pgs. 13-17)

As mentioned above, the functionalist perspective offers a family unit providing for its own. The Conflict and Interactionist perspectives offer something a little different. The Conflict perspective says that “in any group, society, or family there are dominant members, or groups who will exert power over others to ensure that their interests are served.” (Sullivan, T. (2007) Pgs. 13-17)

“This perspective can be criticized for overemphasizing the importance of conflict and disregarding the prevalence of stability. In addition, whereas functionalists are accused of being too conservative, conflict theorists are accused of having a radical view that places too much emphasis on changing society rather than understanding how order and stability can be maintained.” (Sullivan, T. (2007) Pgs. 13-17)

When it comes to perspectives, the Interactionist perspective speaks little, if not at all, of the family unit, nor of its role in society. “The individual looms larger in this perspective than in the other two perspectives mentioned. However, this approach also has its limitations. Because of the emphasis on face-to-face interaction in shaping social reality, there is a tendency to ignore the part that social institutions, such as the family play in molding human behavior.” (Sullivan, T. (2007). Pgs. 13-17)

In layman’s terms, the three perspectives can be broken down like so with regards to family: “Functionalism- Shows little concern with personality; People are shaped by society to perform important functions for society. Conflict Theory- Shows little concern with personality; people are shaped by social institutions and the position of their groups in society. Interactionism- People are symbol manipulators; the self (personality) arises from communication and social interaction.” (Sullivan, T. (2007) Table 1.1 Pg. 17)

In my opinion, and in the opinion of Robert Young, “The family is one of society’s main and arguably most important, social institutions as it serves to socialize individuals to be productive members of society. As a social system, the family is viewed as an entity which consists of various interrelated parts that perform particular functions. Further, the family as a system is part of a larger system or society, and contributes to the functioning of said society.” (Young, R. (2007) Pg. 2)

When it comes to family, “there are four areas in which a family unit creates the ideas that allow them to function as a family unit: the first is socialization which is the...
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