Compare and Contrast the Functionalist and Marxist views on the Family

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Topics: Sociology, Marxism
Compare and Contrast the Functionalist and Marxist views on the Family
Functionalists argue that societies consist of inter-related social institutions such as schools, mass media, political systems, the Church and the family each of which contribute positively to the maintenance of stability of society as a whole. Broadly speaking it is assumed by functionalists that societies operate in the interests of all of their members so that there is no reason for fundamental conflict in society. Instead there is a high degree of consensus that societies are organised efficiently and relatively fairly.
According to Herbert Spencer, the family performs functions which are necessary for the society, as a whole, to operate smoothly with little or no conflict. He used the analogy of an organism to explain the operation of the society. They believe that all parts of the family interrelate and if one thing does not work, the whole family will become dysfunctional. In this way, functionalists say the family is like an organic analogy-where everything in society depends on each other.
George Murdoch, Talcott Parsons, Ronald Fletcher, Young and Willmott are the main theorists who have functionalist perspectives on the family. When analysing the family, the functionalists focus on two main areas. Firstly is the functions that the family provides and secondly is the functional relationship between the family and other social systems i.e. the economy.
Murdoch argues on the basis of his study, using 250 societies, that the nuclear family was a universal social institution and that it existed universally because it fulfilled four basic functions for society. He believes that the family performs four central functions: sexual, reproductive, economic and educational (socialization).
Sexual refers to the sexual gratification of the parents of the family. Reproductive refers to the family producing a new generation that will go into society and take up jobs. In the economic role, the

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