Perspectives on the role of the family within society

Topics: Gender role, Feminism, Sociology Pages: 4 (913 words) Published: December 10, 2013


Functionalist views:

Interested in how the various institutions and groups within society function together •The family maintains the social system by producing the next generation of citizens, workers and parents •G.P. Murdock:

oFour main functions
1.Production of new generations
2.Regulation of sexual activity
3.Provision of economic support and the necessities of life through the division of labour 4.Socialisation of children into the culture of the community •Murdock wrote his perspective before the feminist movement •He took for granted the fact that traditional roles were universal and desirable •Feminist Ann Oakley re-examined his data finding that he had ignored societies in which the gender roles were reversed. She argued that the gender roles that he had argued were not universal and it is possible to change them •Talcott Parsons:

oParsons agreed with Murdock but focused his attention mainly on modern isolated nuclear family a.Two ‘irreducible functions’ left
i.The socialisation of children into their society’s culture ii.The stabilisation of adult personalities
b.The first point agrees with Murdock
c.Second relates to the comfort and emotional support
Parsons elaborated on Murdock’s ideas about how children were socialised by the same sex parent •Described female role as expressive (caring and nurturing) •Described male role as instrumental (practical)

Feminists challenge Parsons idea that gender roles nowadays have to be divided as he described as there is no reason why men and women should not share both bread winning and caring roles Marxist views:

Marxists are critical of the family and society.
They believe society is based on a conflict between the classes – working class and ruling class. •The family helps to maintain class differences in society as the rich can afford to give their children a better start in life than the poor, e.g....
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