Sociological Definition Of Family

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Family, it means something different to everyone. Sometimes our family is related by blood, other times they’re not. Sometimes we love our family, sometimes we can’t stand them. Everyone defines who and what family is differently, because of this it’s difficult to pinpoint a single definition for it. In order to prevent providing a narrow definition Henslin explains that “family consists of people who consider themselves related by blood, marriage, or adoption (Henslin, 2015, p. 368). Just like the many definitions of family, sociologist apply many different theories in order to understand family better. Some major theories that can be applied to further understand the meanings of family are the functionalist perspective, conflict perspective, …show more content…
371). Families are not unique, they can be found all over the world. Functionalists believe the family is global because of the primitive needs it provides for the survival of a society; these needs include “(1) economic production, (2) socialization of children, (3) care of the sick and aged, (4) recreation, (5) sexual control, and (6) reproduction” (Henslin, 2015, p.371). Functionalist believe that even the incest taboo thats found in many cultures serves a purpose to society. Incest is when people who are considered to be “very closely related” participate in sexual intercourse with one another (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). The reason functionalist say many cultures deem incest as a taboo is because it causes “role confusion” and because excluding incest promotes “exogamy” (Henslin, 2015, p.371). When incest is involved, people have a difficult time assigning roles and learning how they should treat people. For example, if a father has incest with his daughter should his wife teach the new woman as a daughter or a second wife, should the new woman treat the first wife as …show more content…
Symbolic interactionists believe “symbols—things to which we attach meaning—are the key to understanding how we view the world and communicate with one another” (Henslin, 2015, p.13). Gender is one of the most common symbols found amongst families. Gender roles are often assigned to husbands and wives, and this dictates how they act in their marriage. Historically, the gender role for husbands was to go off to work and bring home money to the wife and kids. While wives were supposed to stay home and take care of the house and children. With more women involved in the workforce gender roles are beginning to change, but traditional symbols of what a “good” husband or a “good” wife are continue to plague society with a stigma. Women who do go off to work might be judged if their child is placed in daycare or if the father must watch them, but women who stay home might be judged and called lazy for not having a job. Symbols are powerful and can have a huge impact on the decisions family members make. Symbolic interactionist study how gender, and other symbols, can impact the family unit. The functionalist theory, conflict theory, and symbolic interactionist theory can all be applied to different aspects of life, including family. Functionalists study the purposes of family, while conflict theorists study the clashes that occur in families and specifically couples,

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