However, some sociologists disagree with Murdock’s functions of the family and have criticised him. Some argue that these functions could be performed in other institutions equally as well as in the family, or by non-nuclear families. Marxists and Feminists reject his 'rose-tinted' harmonious consensus view that the family meets the needs of both wider society and all members of the family. They argue that functionalism neglects conflict and exploitation: Feminist see the family as serving the needs of men and oppressing women. Marxists argue that it meets the needs of Capitalism and not the needs of family members or society as a whole.
Some sociologists suggests that this change led to more equality in modern family life. However, not everyone agrees with this conclusion. Feminists are especially cautious about drawing this conclusion because they believe that there are still inequalities of power and control which persists in modern family relationships. In Talcott Parsons' 1955 functionalist model of the family, he suggests that in the traditional nuclear family, the roles of husbands and wives were naturally segregated(separate and distinct from one another). Women are naturally more suited to take on the expressive role which involves socialisation of the children and meet the family's emotional needs.
Item 2B “For functionalist sociologists, the family is an important institution in society. They see the family as having a number of roles essential to the smooth running of society. For example, the family is seen as key to socialising children into the norms and values of society. Other sociologists argue that the functionalist view is too uncritical and ignores the conflict that takes place within the family.” For functionalist sociologists the family is an important institution in the modern day society. Functionalists like Murdock, Parsons and Fletcher see the family as having a number of essential roles to give a ‘smooth running society.’ George Murdock, a functionalist, looked at 250 societies in the US.
Marxists and Feminists say that functionalism rejects conflict and exploitation. Feminists see the family as being patriarchal and serving the needs of men. Marxists argue that the family meets the needs of capitalism and not family members or society. Parson’s argues that the particular structure and functions of a family type will ‘fit’ the needs of society in which it is found. According to Parsons’ there are two types of society; industrial and pre-industrial society.
Sociology Education assignment 1 Using material from item A and elsewhere assess the view that the education system exists mainly to prepare young people for their future work roles. (20 marks) Functionalist would agree with the original statement they see the education system as performing useful functions for society there are four that are thought as the most important they are maintaining social solidarity, teaching specialised skills, secondary socialisation and role allocation. On the other hand Marxists believe the education system is an ideological state apparatus. Marxists also believe there is a correspondence between school and work and of the counter school culture. Functionalism is a sociological theory society has certain basic needs the most important of which is social order.
These include a stable satisfaction of the sex drive, which help prevent a sexual ‘free-for-all’. Secondly, Murdock claimed another function was the reproduction of the next generation. Thirdly, the family socializes the young into society’s shared norms and values, and finally it meets it’s members’ economic needs, such as food and shelter. The concept of Murdock’s four essential functions are described in Item 2B concerning the “socializing children into the norms and values of society” function. It can be argued that without the family, there would be no form of primary socialization, which takes place largely within the family where the child learns key things such as language, basic skills and norms.
A weakness in this argument is that it can be seen that functionalists adopt too much of an idyllic view of the family, an example being it ignores dysfunctional families such as abusive relationships. Murdoch (1949) identified four main functions of the family: the sexual, reproductive, economic and educational. These four functions cover the role of family in society. The sexual and reproductive functions are essential for the survival of humankind. The economic function is the parent’s responsibility to take care of the family financially, usually for functionalists through the sexual division of labour where the man will take the role as the breadwinner and the woman will adopt the expressive role and take care of the home and children due to her nurturing instinct.
Using the material from item A and elsewhere assess the contribution of functionalism to our understanding of families and households. Functionalists have a structural approach and believe that our behaviour is determined by society. It is based on a shared value consensus; this is where a set of social norms and functions are followed to meet goals and aims. Functionalists also believe that the family is the key essential part of all society. Functionalism is a Macro theory this means it is a large scale theory which has a broad array of information.
For example, other needs such as reproduction and sex can also be met by sperm donors, and ‘escorts’. Marxist and Feminist sociologists have criticised Murdoch’s theory. They say that Functionalism ignores conflict and exploitation within society. Feminists see the family as being patriarchal and serving the needs of men and Marxists see the family as meeting the needs of capitalism and not the needs of the family members. According to Parsons there are two types of society; pre and post-industrial.
However, Radical Feminists would disagree and say that the function of the family is used to maintain patriarchy, meaning that men are dominant within the family and society, and so possessions are passed on from father to son. The New Right would disagree with Functionalists view and argue that the function is in decline. Contemporary society shows that people do not remain faithful to their partner. It also shows that society has a more Post-Modernist view, which believes there is no single truth, so there cannot be a correct type of family because we all have the freedom to make our own choices. I agree with contemporary society's view because it is what society is actually like and how we live today.