Assess the contribution of functionalist views to the understanding of the family
Functionalism is a structural consensus theory. They believe society is held together by social consensus, or cohesion, in which members of society agree upon and work together to achieve what is best for society as a whole. Secondly, they view each aspect of society is independent and contributes to society’s functioning as a whole, similar to the functioning of a human body. Their view is primarily positive and believes that if everyone abides by their roles and expectations then society will continue effectively. Overall, I think the Functionalist view is too positive as it fails to explain the social conflicts that characterise the modern world.
Functionalist sociologists believe that the family functions to benefit its individual members and society as a whole. They believe that the home should be a calm and relaxed place where adults and children can relieve their stresses and worries that generated throughout the day. Parsons believes that the family unquestionably benefits individuals and society. He uses the idea of 'the warm bath' (which was then developed by Steel and Kidd in 2001) to represent the home and family. The husband worries about competition, money, job insecurity etc and takes these strains home. The husband's home and family act as a 'warm bath' washing away his troubles so that he is refreshed and ready for the next day at work where he is able to contribute to society. However in reality 40% of marriages end in divorce and many people are prepared to walk away from a marriage if they are not happy. This undermines the family and therefore the functionalist view because the increase in divorce means the family is not stable and relaxed therefore, not having the desired effect.
Secondly, Functionalist Parsons believed an important function of the family is primary socialisation of children that it is the parent’s responsibility to educate and help their...