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Assess Sociological Views Of The Functions Of The Family Both For The Individual And For Society

1038 words - 5 pages

Murdock, a functionalist believes that the family structure is like a sub system to society. He says that the family performs four essential functions to meet the needs of society and it's members. These functions are: successful socialisation of the young into society's shared norms and values, the members of the families economic needs are met regularly e.g food and shelter, stable satisfaction of the sex drive with the same partner and finally the reproduction of the next generation without which society would struggle to continue. However, there are many criticisms of Murdock's theory. Other sociologists have argued that his 'rose tinted' harmonious consensus view that the family meets ...view middle of the document...

Although Young and Willmott both criticise the functional fit theory. According to them, the pre-industrial family was nuclear, not extended, with parents and children working together. This shows that the extended family was not dominant in pre-industrial society.

Ronald Fletcher talks of how in the past, individuals often had very little choice in who they married, and at a time when the family was also a unit of production, marriages were often contracted largely for economic reasons. But nowadays family life is far more complex, With the introduction of health, education and housing policies in the years since the industrial revolution has steadily lead to the development of a welfare state that supports the family in performing its functions more effectively. Criticisms of Fletchers few are common. His vies makes the assumption that all members of the family benefit from social policies, whereas feminists argue that the policies often benefit men at the expense of women.

Marxist theorist Frederick Engels thinks that the capitalist class created the monogamous nuclear family in order to protect inheritance and private property to in turn benefit the wealthy bourgeoisie.In his eyes, monogamy became essential due to the inheritance of private property-men had to be certain of the paternity of their children in order to ensure that their legitimate heirs inherited from them. He also thought that the rise of the monogamous nuclear family represented a ''world historical defeat of the female sex''. This was because it brought the woman's sexuality under male control and turned her into a '' a mere instrument for the production of children''. However most Marxists theorists tend to assume that the nuclear family is dominant in capitalist society. They ignore the wide and increasing variety of family structures found in society in the present day.

Another Marxist called Eli Zaretsky says that along with Parsons theory of 'irreducible' functions, the family also performs an ideological function by offering an apparent 'haven' from the harsh...

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