Assess the functionalist position on the role of the family. (24 Marks)
Functionalist view society as having many parts, which must work together efficiently in order to maintain social harmony and coherence. There are two main functionalist writers who examined the family and derived different functions that each believed the family perform for society's stability. These two writers are George Peter Murdock (1949) and Talcott Parsons (1959).
George Peter Murdock was an American sociologist who studied over two hundred and fifty different societies worldwide. By researching into these societies, Murdock was able to compile the following definition for family:
"The family is a social group characterised by common residence, economic cooperation and reproduction. It includes adults of both sexes, at least two of whom maintain a socially approved sexual relationship, and one or more children, owned or adopted, of the sexually cohabited adults".
From his research, Murdock was able to come to the conclusion that the family is inevitable and is bound to exist in every society. Murdock was able to conclude that the best and most common family form was the nuclear family.
Functionalist favour the nuclear family and oppose single parent and same sex families. Functionalist believe that one parent cannot possible provide for children the same as two parents can. The new right also back this idea and state that children from single parent families are more likely to end up in crime then children with both parents. They fail, however to see that there are many successful single parent families. It is not fair to say that all children from single parent families will stray towards crime.
Nuclear family is a unit composed of a father, mother and at least one child. There are specifics roles in the nuclear family which each member must perform. The woman takes on an expressive role, of nurturing and caring for the family members, while the male takes on...
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