Assess the Contribution of Marxism to Our Understanding of Families and Households Essay

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Assess the contribution of Marxism to our understanding of families and households (24 marks) Marxists have very different views on the family compared to other key sociologists. They believe that the only purpose of the family is to feed back into the capitalist society. Marxists see all society’s institutions as helping to maintain class inequality and Capitalism. Marists views have been criticised by other sociologists that believe the family does not only benefit society but the members of the family themselves. Marxist believes that society is in a state of conflict between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. They say that the capitalist bosses exploit the working class in order to keep the rich- rich and the poor- poor. Engels (1891) highlights this in society. He explains that the family remained monogamous in order for families to find a rightful heir to inherit private property. This meant that the divide between the rich and the poor increased. Due to the increase in wealth we see the emergence of private property as a class of men who came into power secured control of the means of production, this then brought back the patriarchal monogamous nuclear family. Marxists believed that the traditional nuclear family oppressed women and was only benefitting the capitalist society. Eli Zaretsky (1976) said that the family performed an ideological function by offering an apparent ‘haven’. He said that this is an illusion of the family form and that the family is based on the domestic servitude of women. For example the husband would come home to his wife that has to provide relief so he can continue to contribute into the capitalist society. This is false class consciousness as the workers are unaware that they are and have been exploited. Consequently Marxism illustrates the unhappy side of the family and the stresses it brings upon its members mainly

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