Assess Functionalist Views of the Role of the Family.

Topics: Family, Sociology, Gender role Pages: 3 (784 words) Published: February 23, 2013
Assess functionalist views of the role of the family.
What do Functionalists believe the role of the family is? Try to back these up using examples of functionalist sociologists.

The whole family has an important part to play within our society and each member have a job to do to keep the family together. Just as Talcott Parsons suggested the theory of functionalism means that the function of anything is about the job that is set to do. However Parsons, along with Wilmott and Young argued that industrialisation has led to open marriage, joint marital roles in the symmetrical nuclear family.

Although families are bound together there is clear segregated roles, especially in the traditional family setting in which most of Britain live by. Where the husbands work to provide for the family and the wife stays at home to look after the children. Men have always thought that they are the head of the household, for example in hunting families even though the women went out to gather food, the men always went out to gather more protein providing food leaving them to be thought as more important. However in some families there are joint roles (sharing roles) where women and men perform both stereotypical jobs of the husband and wife which means both adults go to work and they also share the domestic tasks leaving more time to spend with the whole family. Murdock claimed that he had found evidence of nuclear families in the 250 different societies he studies.

Feminism has had a significant influence on how families are seen in the recent years, feminists are more aware of the effects of family life has on women. It has been said that patriarchy has been created in families and is then reinforced in the relationships, “the personal political”.

Edmund Leach suggested that the nuclear family actually is a negative force in industrial society nowadays and that modern families are more isolated from kin and community, as well as isolated family members actually...
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