Topics: Sociology, Gender role, Biology Pages: 2 (502 words) Published: January 2, 2015
Essay title: Assess the usefulness of the functionalist theory theory of the family

The functionalist theory portrays the idea that society is built on harmony and consensus which is free from major conflict. Functionalists see the family as one of the most important social institutions as it is beneficial both for the individual and society, meeting the needs of society for social order and stability.

Murdock agues that the family performs four essential functions which meets the needs of society stable satisfaction of the sex drive with the same partner. Reproduction of the next generation which would allow society to continue. It was argued that the family is compared to a biological organisation such as the human body for example, the family exists to meet the basic needs of society such as the need to socialise children just as the vital organs like the heart or lungs perform duties in order to keep the well being of the body as a whole safe. A weakness here would be that Feminists argue that these roles are socially constructed through the process of gender role socialisation rather than being biologically inherited.

In Parson's functionalist model of the family, he states there is a clear division of labour between spouses, the husband has an instrumental role aimed towards providing for his family financially, usually known as the breadwinner whereas the wife, has an expressive role which is focused more on meeting the families needs emotionally and primary socialisation of the children this is known as the home maker, a full time housewife. Parson's also saw the family as a “warm bath” the reason being as it provides stress relief of everyday life as a warm bath would, by this it also gives them emotional security and support. This allows stability not only to society but the wider society. A weakness would be linked to Parsons view of the traditional expressive and instrumental roles which are seen to be rather outdated and old fashioned as...
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