Assess the Functionalist View of the Family.

Topics: Family, Sociology, Nuclear family Pages: 3 (1031 words) Published: October 15, 2012
‘Assess the functionalist view of the family?’
Functionalist looks at society on a macro level. It is a consensus theory and structuralists prefer to use functionalism as it agrees with their ideals and models and they prefer to look at society as a whole. Functionalists are interested in studying what family is most functional. This essay will assess how functionalists view point of the family by exploring Murdock, Comte, Parsons and Durkheim, the founder of functionalism, ideas and evaluating them.

As a functionalist view, they believed that the family had to teach the norms and values so they believed that the ‘Traditional Nuclear Family’ was the best type of family. Functionalists believed that the husband and wife have segregated conjugal roles and a clear division of labour. E.g. the woman is the carer and child bearer whereas the man is the breadwinner, the economic provider. They argued that the role of the family was to maintain a functional society – social stability and consensus. As the family is the primary agent of socialisation, in other terms, the basic block of society. In addition, Murdock believed that the family performed four basic functions in society such as stable satisfaction of the sex drive, reproductive function, economic function and socialisation. As Murdock believed this, he also believed it was necessary for families to be applicable to all societies. The fact the nuclear family can meet these four basic functions explains why it was universal. But in disagreement, functionalists don’t observe the negative side of a family, they believe it to be a perfect environment and being stable, but in fact they ‘forget’ to look at the negativity as not all families are stable or ‘nuclear’. As such, some families have a dark side, e.g. the wife could be domestically abused by her husband or the family may have economic issues. As referring to the last statement, not all families are nuclear as Callahan, a sociologist, exclaims that there...
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