Functionalism and the Family Essay examples

627 Words May 10th, 2016 3 Pages
Took 45 minutes to complete about 659 words

Using the material from the Item and elsewhere, assess the functionalist contribution to our understanding of the family.(24 marks)
Functionalism is a structural theory as it examines social institutions e.g. economy , education etc. It sees these institutions as a way of moulding and shaping the individual. Functionalism is also a consensus theory and tends to encourage sharing norms and values and promotes agreement rather than conflict , value consensus. Functionalists adopt and organic analogy. This is the idea of seeing society as a living system (human body) , e.g. the skin of our body is like our norms and values.
Material from the item says that Murdock (1949) suggests the four
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Parsons argued that the performance of these roles will depend upon the kind of society and they will develop to meet the needs of the society. Parsons also makes an analogy of the family to a 'warm bath'. This theory suggests that the family relieves the pressures of everyday life and recharges the batteries of individuals , just like a warm bath would.
However , material from the item shown me that functionalists present a far too rosy and uncritical view of the family life. Feminists and Marxists argue that functionalists ignore the families 'dark side' which involves conflict and exploitation.Marxists like Zaretsky say the family acts as a 'comfort zone' for the worker against the hardships of an oppresive , exploitative workplace. Marxist-feminists explain how gender roles in the family 'fit; the requirements of a capitalist society rather than being a 'natural' society like functionalists claim. Also many other agencies are now involved in the family functions and are taking over the role of the family. Agencies like The Welfare Sate and The Government now take a large role in performing the economic function of the family as they provide food , shelter and clothing for families. The welfare and health function has been taken over by the NHS and Social Services and they play a large part in looking after families. School's and the Media have gone on to take over the socialisation and education of children within the

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