Page 1. Family
A family is “a set of people related by blood, marriage or some other agreed-upon relationship, or adoption, who share the primary responsibility for reproduction and caring for members of society.” (Schaefer, 2009) A family is considered a social institution. This social institution is one that can be applied to all three sociological theories which are functionalism, conflict, and interactionism. The first sociological theory is functionalism. A functionalism perspective is a “sociological approach that emphasizes the way in which the parts of a society are structured to maintain its stability.” (Schaefer, 2009) This simply means for in the instance of a family that the family in a whole is stable because each family member has a role that they must fulfill. They are dependent on each other to help fulfill their role. If one family member was to leave then there would be dysfunction until the family finds someone to fill that empty role or learns how to deal without that role being fulfilled. Dysfunction is “the element or process of a society that may actually disrupt the social system or reduce its stability.” (Schaefer, 2009) Another dysfunction for a family could be a new member being introduced into the family. The new member would then have a new role to play for the family and the family would have to figure out how to deal with this new role. Until the new role is figured out dysfunction will leave the family unstable. The second sociological theory is Conflict. Conflict perspective is “a sociological approach that assumes that social behavior is best understood in terms of tension between groups over power or the allocation of resources, including housing, money, access to services, and political representation.” (Schaefer, 2009) This perspective relates to a family in two ways. Page 2. Family
The first is inner structure of a family. Within a family you have members that sometimes fight for roles. Example is who will be the breadwinner and the one who makes all the decisions for the family. These types competition in families to see who will be the more successful and who will have what role can cause a lot conflict and resentment within the family. The second is the outer elements. The family as a whole is always having tension from being in conflict with other families for status. The phrase “keeping up with the Jones’s” is a prime example of how two families compete with each other to see who makes more and who can climb the social ladder first. The third sociological theory is interactionism. The interactionism perspective is “a sociological approach that generalizes about everyday forms of social interaction in order to explain society as a whole.” (Schaefer, 2009) This is a view that looks at what we do and how we do it. This approach takes a in depth look at our daily routines. For example like the way we interact at work, school, in other public places like a bus stop or even our behavior in small groups. This is also known as mircosociology. When taking this approach a person sees meaning in objects that includes materialistic things, one's actions, other people's impacts on us, relationships in our life's, and even can include symbols. Symbols can be especially important because they have shared social meanings that can be understood by all members of society. Symbols are nonverbal communication.
For a family institution the similarities that these three sociological theories share is based on one common characteristic. That one similarity is that none of them would be effective without some sort of structure. All three of these theories view a family as a group of Page 3. Family
individuals that are always interacting with each. Their roles are almost always dependent on the other members in their family. That each member has a role to play in order for the family to function effectively and keeps the family as a whole...
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