Sociology and Family Members

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Family
SOC 101 Introduction to Sociology
Instructor: Sheila Farr
November, 12th 2012

The sociological institutions I have chosen for this paper is family. “The family is the first group of people with whom the child has contact, and they are the most important, especially in the early years. They provide food, shelter, care, education, and support. They describe and define the world to the developing child. They teach values, morals, and beliefs.” (Vissing, 2011) A person is defined by the family and they are taught how to live a certain way, but as they grow up society start to influence their decisions. In this paper I will evaluate the impact Sociological theories: Functionalism, Conflict, and Interactionism, will have on a family. How does each theory apply to the selected sociological institution? “The family is regarded as the most basic institution for all individuals because it is directly responsible for the care and protection of its members. The family consists of people who are biologically related but may also contain people with whom we live and people with whom we have close emotional bonds.” (Vissing, 2011) The way Functionalism applies to a family is functionalist sociologists developed an analysis which showed that the family had evolved into a superior form. Studies by Murdock, Goode, and others were able to show that the family, in changing its form, had been left free to concentrate on the most important functions. Parsons (1956) saw the two most important functions to be the socialization of the young and the stabilization of the adult personality. “The functionalist view of the family is the notion of ‘fit’. The isolated nuclear family was seen to be a good ‘fit’ for post-war American society. The family had been left free to make a good job of rearing the children, with more ‘professional’ parents working alongside teachers and childcare experts. The family was also able to concentrate on the demanding relationship between husband and wife. The family provided both the child and the adult with the physical and emotional support needed for their roles in society. It also provided the motivation to be successful in an industrial world which laid stress on achievement by individual effort. The functionalist account of the positive role of the family in society coincided with a period of strong public support for the American family. Berger and Berger (1983) argue that this was a period when the American family was seen as a success, particularly in the way it placed the needs of the individual at the heart of family life.” (Wilson, A, (1985) pg. 21) The way Conflict applies to a family is the conflict role can be intense and uncomfortable, as people feel forced to make choices between work and family. Relatives may be upset when major conflicts occurs such as “financial pressures and money management; trying to balance home, work, community, and personal responsibilities; infidelity; decision making and conflict resolution; dealing with health problems; addressing personal, educational, and occupational needs of family members; maintaining a home and household; dealing with substance abuse, crime, or domestic violence problems; co-parenting; divorce and stepfamilies; and dealing with aging parents.” A family shoulders a tremendous responsibility and usually requires assistance from others as a result. For some people work may come first and may be seen as a violation of the role of being a dedicated family member. Individuals may feel a sense of being "damned if I do, damned if I don't," no matter what they end up doing. Often work comes first because responsible adults feel that they cannot care for their family if they lose their job. When people feel important at work and home, they have a greater sense of generatively; when they do not feel valued or do work that isn't inherently meaningful, the feelings of stagnation and alienation occur. When people feel competent and happy, the...
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