Examine the Different Functions Performed by the Family for the Individual and Society.
According to society the family performs many different and important functions for society and individuals. I will examine the views of Functionalism, the New Right and Marxist and identify the functions performed by the family for individuals and society.
What is meant by Functionalism? Functionalists see society as a social system made up of interrelated and inter-dependant institutions e.g. education, work, religion, law and family. Functionalists highlight the ideal family type in modern society as the nuclear family. The view of the nuclear family compromises an instrumental role from the husband and an expressive role from the wife. They do not favour single-parent families or same-sex families. Functionalists disagree with single-parent families for several reasons. This type of family is increasing and many single parents who don’t work claim for benefits. Functionalism doesn’t like this because it does not provide stability for their children. Single parenting can often lead to the chance of single wage poverty which is shunned in functionalist’s eyes because children suffer through no fault of their own. They disagree with same-sex marriages because it goes against the traditional structure of a nuclear family. They believe that the women should do the housework and look after the husband and the husband (the breadwinner) should earn the wage to support the family. If you have a same-sex couples, neither of them can do what is traditionally expected of them.
Functionalists believe that one of the main functions of the family is primary socialisation which is teaching the norms and values of society. Another function is the stabilisation of adults. Parsons describes the family as a warm bath. This is most commonly known as relaxing the adults in the family and the women and children will look after the men when they get home from work. Murdock, a functionalist,