Sociological Perspectives - Family

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  • Topic: Sociology, Structural functionalism, Family
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Sociological Perspectives - Family
SOC 101
Allen Lipscomb
February 28, 2010

Family can be defined in many ways through many different theories. Family can also be a main area of where socialization skills for individuals and society develop. The following will help in the explanation on how you can apply Functionalism, Conflict and Interactionism theories to family and society. Sociological Perspectives - Family

Families, what is the term family? What does it mean? Who decides what makes up a family? The definition of family means “A fundamental social group in society typically consisting of one or two parents and their children” ( This might include anyone related to by blood or by adoption such as: step parents, grandparents acting as parents, and even brothers and sisters sometimes sharing the same household. The term family has been believed to coincide with the word “marriage”. If you were to have a family, you were also thought to have a husband or wife. This was thought to be the norm for many centuries. This was named the “institutional family”. But the word family has been reinvented. A family can consist of single parent family, step family, or a first marriage family. It seems that in all societies the first major agent of socialization for most individuals is the family. The role of the American family is much the same as in any other country. Each family member has to fulfill his or her own part. The mass media will have an influence on the family’s role. For instance, the media has portrayed men to be thought of as the “bread-winner”. To more or less support the family. This family type was atypical of the American family. Functionalism

Functionalism believes that the family is the foundation of social order. According to the sociologist Talcot Parsons, “any other type of family other than the nuclear family is dysfunctional in society because they are not suited for society’s economic needs and therefore may be a potential threat to society” (1966). They believed in the theory that the family is a positive institution. The structural functionalist perspective views society as having a structure of several components. Family, religion, schools, state, and the economy. The family fulfills vital functions for instance culture, support, and status. The institute of marriage is important because functionalism ignores conflict and diversity. So functionalism encourages marriage. Functionalism believes that trends do not exist. Structural functionalist ignore family violence. “Functionalism is a structuralist theory; meaning that it sees social structure as more important than individuals” (2009). The functionalist view of society makes the assumption that every society has a range of basic needs. Functionalists would say that if these needs are being met then the society is functioning and it is more likely to survive over a longer period of time. Conflict

In the Conflict Perspective, marriage and family do not coincide with one another. Conflict theorists do not disagree with functionalists regarding the family; they just argue that the functionalist perspective fails to tell the whole story. The Marxist view is those who have the means to produce wealth and those who don’t. By way of the conflict perspective, conflict theorists view the family as an institution to which we will get all of our knowledge by determination of class. Conflict will acknowledge that all families have an important role in the development in a child’s life, depending on the social class of that family. “This perspective focuses on the negative, conflicted, and ever-changing nature of society” ( The main focus of the conflict perspective is on society as a whole. They see society as in a continuous state of conflict between groups and classes. Conflict theorists challenge the status quo, encourage social change and...
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