Perspectives on the role of the family within society Essay

Functionalist views:

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•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:

Parsons 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. pay for a better education than the poor, get them a good job either in their own business or their friends businesses. • Marxists believe the family socialises the working class to accept that it is fair that the classes are unequal. •They usually fail to notice the inequalities and exploitation in a capitalist country as its seen to be the norm •They believe there is two classes:

1.Ruling class
2.Working class
i.The ruling class exploits the working class
•Society is based on and around exploitive and unequal relationships between the two classes •They focus on the economic system as being responsible for the behaviour of individuals •They say that the working class rarely will challenge the system because those who own the economic system control socialisation and education etc for example the government •Marxist feminists argue that patriarchy suits the capitalist system as well as men because women are unpaid domestic labourers who service the male labour force making the fit and healthy for work and who produce the next future work force •They believe that only true equality can be gained when the capitalist system is dismantled.

Feminist views:

•There are three types of feminism
•Feminists are person whose beliefs and behaviours are based on feminism •They see the family as NEGATIVE for society.
•Feminists believe the family is bad for women because it exploits them and it isn’t equal for the women •Girls and boys learn their different gender roles within the family through socialisation.

•Gender is the identity of a male and female

•Girls copy their mothers, doing housework, whilst boys copy their fathers, doing DIY. They then learn that this is how male and female roles should be. Feminists believe that the family is male dominated – the term for this is patriarchal.

•The goals of a feminist are to demonstrate the importance of women to reveal that historically women have been subordinate to men to bring about equality between the two genders •Feminism can be defined as recognition and critique of male supremacy combined with efforts to change it

•Feminists fight for the equality of women and argue that women should be treated equally •Feminists theory is an outgrowth of the general movement to empower women worldwide •Radical feminists believe that the patriarchal oppression of women is built into every aspect of the way society is organised

•They also argue that men aggressively exercise their physical, economic and cultural power to dominate women in all areas of social life and particularly in personal relationships such as marriage, domestic care, childcare and sex

New Right views:

•New right theorists are mainly concerned about giving lots of welfare benefits to single mothers. This is because they think that it is a bad idea to have children bought up in families where adults aren’t working and in lone parent families or fatherless families.

•They believe that social policies on the family, children, divorce and welfare have undermined the family. •It’s based on the idea that the traditional nuclear family and its values (having a mother father and child, parents are married, dad is in paid employment) are best for society. •New right sociologists believe that the increase in lone parents and reconstituted families and the easier access to divorce has led to a breakdown in traditional values today. They say that this causes social problems such as crime increase. Freidman argues that:

•Governments should be involved in the economy expect four main functions:
Law and order
Defence system
Provision of necessary public works
Protection of members who cant be responsible

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