Assess the Contribution of Functionalism to Our Understanding of Families and Households. Essay

1777 WordsAug 29, 20158 Pages
Louise Garfitt Assess the contribution of Functionalism to our understanding of families and households. In this essay I will be assessing the contributions of Functionalism to our understanding of families and households. Functionalism has made several contributions to our understanding of families and households. Functionalists see the family as an important step in society. For example, George Peter Murdock (1949) argues that the family performs four essential functions to meet the need of society and its members, these are: Stable satisfaction of the sex drive, sex with the same partner will prevent social disruption in the family which will keep the family together. Reproduction of the next generation, without which the society will not continue. Socialisation of the young, teach children the norms and values of society at a young age so they will learn. Meeting its members' economic needs, making sure the family has food and shelter. 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. Another example of a functionalist point of view is from Talcott Parsons (1955) who says there are two basic irreducible functions of the family which are: The primary socialisation of children, to equip them with basic skills and societies norms and
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