There are many different perspectives and theories on the family. The Functionalists see the family as the basic building block of society and that its main function is to socialise children - meeting some of society’s essential needs. Marxists see the family as part of a superstructure of society and is one of many institutions that serves the needs and helps to maintain the class inequality and capitalism.
Functionalist theories of society are based on the assumption that society operates on the basis of consensus (agreement). Functionalists believe that the family is a basic building block of society. Promoting the nuclear family.
George Murdock (1949) claims that there are four essential functions of the family:
Reproduction of the next generation
Economic function - meeting its members economic needs such as food and shelter.
Sexual - stable satisfaction of the sex drive
Educational function - socialising of children into society’s shared norms and values.
Murdock also sees the family as functional not only for society at large but also for its individual members. The family, in Murdock’s view, is universal since neither the individual nor society of could survive without it.
Talcott Parsons ‘Functional Fit’ Theory claims that industrial societies as becoming increasingly specialised, with a wider range of institutions carrying out more and more specialised functions.
Parsons claims that there are two basic and irreducible functions within the family, claiming that no matter how many functions the family loses, there will always be these two:
Primary socialisation of children - teaching children basic skills and society’s values, enabling them to co-operate with others and integrating them with society.
Stabilisation of adult personalities - relief of stress, emotional security, allows members to return to work refreshed and emotional support.
Functionalists claim that the nuclear family has become socially isolated from extended...