SOC 101 Introduction to Sociology
Dr. Peter Conis
July 30, 2012
Sociological Theories and Family Institution
We don’t get to pick the family we are born into. Family is the basic unit of our society.
It is one the main social institutions. Traditionally families consist of a father, mother, and children which represent the nuclear family. You can branch out also look at the extended family such as uncles, aunts, and grandparents. Sociologists use theories to help understand the inner workings of the family institution and how they fit into society. These theories are used to help solve problems that arise and find solutions. There are three main sociological theories, functionalism, conflict and interactionism that can be used to describe how they impact the social institution of the family and how the family may impact the theories themselves.
The functionalist theory believes that everyone has a role to play. With the traditional family you will have a father, mother, and children. In the family structure the roles usually are your bread winner, who pays the bills, provides money for needed items and is also has been viewed as the protector. This role has normally been filled by the father or the man of the house.
You then have the caretaker, who takes care of the house and cares for the children. They make sure that the household runs efficiently by ensuring that the house is clean, food is cooked, among many other tasks. The mother is traditionally fulfilled this role although in today’s society we have seen this role taken over by others. Lastly you have the children, who really have no defined role in the family structure accept to learn from their parents values and morals and once they reach school age to do well and work hard to become a functional adult in society.
Families who live according to the functionalist