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FUNCTIONALIST AND THE FAMILY

By natashajass May 14, 2015 616 Words
Functionalists agree with many of the positive aspects of the family such as provision of care and teachings of norms and values. The three main functionalist sociologists in this topic are Murdock, Parsons and Fletcher, who all have a different view towards family but main argument is the functions it provides for society. Murdock believes that the family have to provide 4 main functions: primary socialisation, financial support, the meeting of sexual and emotional needs and reproduction. These functions need to be provided by the family in order for children to be skilled and have common knowledge for the future. As quoted from Item 2B ‘the family is seen as key to socialising children into their norms and values of society’. However, and evaluation point for Murdock would be by Marxist, Althusser whose concept was that the family is an ideological state apparatus (ISA). This meant that the family was an ideology, something socially constructed and did whatever society told to do and behave like, restricting the idea of freedom within the family that functionalists believe. Another functionalist point of view would be from Parsons. He said that the family have two main irreducible functions that it had to carry out to satisfy society’s needs, the husband and wife had set roles and that the nuclear family was the functional ‘fit’ in society. The two irreducible functions of the family that Parsons stated was the stabilisation of adult personality and the importance of primary socialisation. The stabilisation of adult personalities meant that women were supposed to meet the emotional needs of the husband and other members within the family. Also, the two roles that the male and female were ‘assigned’ in a household were expressive and instrumental. Men would carrying out the instrumental roles where they would do paid work and bring home the money and women carried out the expressive role where they were the salves of wage (Bentson) and had to take care of the children and husbands mental and emotional needs. However this concept was criticised by Marxist sociologist, Zaretsky, who says the family is safe haven. By this, the warm bath theory is reinforced, as the family is the place where you can find peace and be away from all the cryptic things going on around them. Fletcher is another functionalist sociologists who has other views towards the family’s provision for society. Believes that the family carries out essential roles and the state carries out the non-essential roles. The essential roles are things such as primary socialisation, provision of food and shelter and being financially stable. The non-essential roles that the welfare state provide are things that link to wider society such as the NHS. However, this idea is also criticised by the Marxist sociologist, Engles. Engles believes that the family is only constructed as a ‘unit of consumption’. This means it is a target for capitalism and people who own big companies, especially children as we are now living in a child centre society and they are becoming the main target for the bourgeoisie. Overall, we can see that functionalist sociologist have a fairly positive view of what the family brings towards society and its main functions. We can also see how all of the functionalist’s perspectives can be evaluated with the opposing perspective, Marxism. We see that Marxists believe highly that the family is revolved around the capitalistic society, where mostly the middle and upper class benefit more than working class, which is highly un-meritocratic. We can also come to full conclusion that society would not work without the existence of family as each member of the family give to the society in one way or another.

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