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Sociology Essay

By anthonyjf89 May 14, 2014 1107 Words
In this assignment, I shall be exploring two factors of sociology and linking them with two sociological perspectives. The two factors that will be discussed are family and crime, which will each be linked to Functionism and Marxism. This will offer a comparative and contrasting view, to highlight differences between sociological views. The factors and perspectives will be presented using past theories to support each aspect of this discussion. As a factor, family plays a crucial role in the development and socialisation of an individual. It teaches them the norms and the social role that they will be expected to fulfil. Murdock (1949), a functionalist, described family as “a universal social institution found in all societies” and he states that the commonly structured house hold (father, mother and children) is better referred to as a nuclear family. The fundamental importance of family makes it a tool for social institutionalisation for an individual and the value consensus. Murdock (1949) also states that there are four essential functions of the family; educational, sexual, reproductive and economic functions. This particular perspective shows these four functions fulfil the family role within society. The sexual and reproductive functions counteract the mobility rate within society, whilst maintaining its population. The economic function is the family taking responsibility of tending to and overseeing that an individual is supported financially. Stereotypically speaking, the father takes the instrumental role providing financially for the family, whilst the mother fills the expressive role of nurturing the family and household. Another functionalist, Parsons agreed with Murdock’s theory regarding education. Parson states that a main function of family is primary socialisation. As previously stated it is primary socialisation which grants knowledge of the norms and values relevant to an individual’s culture within society. Further to his theories, Parsons also suggested that different personalities within families would provide emotional security. Both Murdock and Parsons theories concur that a functionalist view suggests the value consensus of the general public is clearly linked to the factor of family. In comparison to the functionalist view, the Marxist view on family stems upon the belief that family is a tool of capitalism and proletariat (working class) determines the order of society. The family factor is viewed to be part of society’s structure and an addition to social institutions. These all direct toward a capitalist system. Marxists believe that because families are a major buyer of goods family aids capitalism greatly. This cycle will therefore continue, where families will buy and bourgeoisie will profit.

The majority of society views themselves as civilised and in favour of humane acts, whether this is shown through individual morals or social ethics as a whole. In general, society hold themselves in high regard. However, if an individual were to commit or participate in a crime, society would assume that they are different to the standard or cultural norms. This could lead to a negative image; their act may be viewed as barbaric and this potentially leaves the minority outcast or isolated from society. Durkheim (1883) was a functionalist who believed that crime, and the following punishment, provide a positive social function by establishing and maintaining a social consensus about what is deemed as deviant behaviour. Durkheim’s theory also suggests that the function of crime holds a purpose of coexistence and maintaining a healthy community. Without the influence of crime, society would possess high risk of repression and could become dysfunctional. The weakness in Durkheim’s theory is that the level of crime to be deemed acceptable or beneficial to society is not specific, and from this what level would create disorder and instability. Another functionalist thinker, Becker (1963), developed the social reaction theory (also known as labelling) stating, ‘Deviancy is not a quality of the act a person commits but rather a consequence of the application by others of rules and sanctions to an ‘offender’. Deviant behaviour is behaviour that people so label’. The labelling theory is based upon social deviations which ultimately lead to labelling the individual who has achieved a different social role due to their actions. From a functionalist view, crime is a prime function of modern society as it allows social divisions to serve a purpose in allowing society’s differences to be balanced. Marxism views the appearance of consensus as nothing more than an imitation. It has the purpose of concealing the reality of the capitalist class and determining the shape of the superstructure by imposing its will upon the working class. It exploits this part of society for profit, supporting the belief that the law is selective in its deliverance of punishment. Gordon (1976) argues that, ‘crime is a rational response to capitalism and therefore is found in all class’. Regardless of the previous argument, it is due to the social control that statistics show the pattern of crime mostly involves primary perpetrators are from urban areas (lower classes). However, some may argue that due to labelling and classification, individuals will act according to their label. Crime is committed by all classes; the bourgeoisie class simply use their influence of position and power to divert the blame to lesser classes. In general, Marxists view the function of crime to be a form of social control. Proletariat are constantly in a struggle of inequality, attempting to free themselves from the domineering control of bourgeoisie class.

In conclusion, family and crime provide a complex issue when they are viewed through social perspectives. From comparing and contrasting functionalist and Marxist views of family and crime as sociological factors, it is the diversity within social classes and the control which emanates as a result, that put capitalism classes in control of society. In comparison, the working class appear to be nothing more than puppets.

Becker, Howard (1995) Howard Becker on education. Buckingham: Philadeplhia. Retrieved from Becker, Howard & Boskoff (1957) ‘Modern sociological theory; in continuity and change’. Toronto. Retrieved from Fry,A. (2013) ‘ Introduction to Sociology’, Sociolisation. Kingston College. Unpublished. Lansdell, C. (2013) ‘The Functions of family and recent changes in society’, Sociolisation. Kingston College. Unpublished. Murdock, George Peter (1949). Social Structure. New York: The MacMillan Company. Retrieved from Parsons, T. (2011) ‘The Three Stages of Socialisation’ 4th March 2011. Available at Plummer, K (2012) ‘Labelling

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