Assess the Contribution of Functionalism to Families and Households Essay

571 WordsNov 2, 20133 Pages
Functionalists see society as based on a shared value consensus, or a set of rules that society socialises its members in to believing and following. This enables society to work in sync with each other to meet goals and needs. Functionalists see the family as a building block for society to grow. George Murdoch (1949) says that the family performs four essential functions to meet societies needs and expectations. These four functions are re-production, sex, economic needs and primary socialisation. He believes that these functions are only able to be carried out in a nuclear family. However, other sociologists say that these needs can be met in other ways outside of the family, for example, the Kibbutz in Israel provides primary socialisation and economic needs. Re-production can be met using sperm doners and the sexual needs can be met through various different ways. Marxists and Feminists argue Murdoch's theory by saying that it ignores conflict and exploitation within society. Marxists' say that the family serves the needs of Capitalism and not the needs of the famliy members. Whilst Feminists say that society is patriarchal and that the family serves the needs of the men in the household. Parsons says that there are two types of society; pre and post-industrial. Parsons says that when Britain became industrialised from the 18th century onwards the extended family had no use in society. This made room for the nuclear family. Parsons believed that this change happened because societies needs changed. The needs of society now-a-days are that the family has to be geographically mobile, moving where the work is. As a smaller unit the nuclear family would be able to do this much easier than the extended family. On top of this there is a great need for a socially mobile work force. The pre-industrial family used to have more needs on them but now there are only
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