Assess the contribution of functionalism to our understanding of the family (24marks)
Functionalists see the family as providing many important values to society. They believe behaviour is constructed by social forces, the government and the individual is made and controlled by society therefore according to this approach every individual is a product of society. Society essentially makes the person, but not solely. Family and other contributing factors heavily shape a personality along with their actions. Also they believe society is like the human body, that if one aspect is removed such as the family, it will not function properly or at all. Murdock argues that the family perform four simple functions; which are sexual – this is where you satisfy your needs with one partner, for a reproductive purpose primarily. Also reproductive which is where you reproduce for the next generation, taking into account the basis that you are creating children to benefit society. In addition socialisation which is being able to socialise your children. Murdock argues that such functions are so vital that they have to exist everywhere. Other sociologists such as Parsons argue that the family has to provide the primary socialisation of children, to ensure the safety of society’s culture and the stabilisation of adult personalities. The family performs vital functions of society, and for all the individual members’ in it. “The family reproduces the next generation and thereby ensures the continuation of society over time” The quote explains that if there was no such thing as a family, then there would be no sexual satisfactions, as a result of this there would be no reproducing, and therefore could lead to the dying out of the population, which means humans would become extinct. However potentially disruptive it could be it is still necessary to sustain a bond between couples, also setting moral rules. Functionalism focuses on the positive roles played by different...
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