Functionalists Perspective On The Family

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Outline and Explain the Functionalist Perspective on the Family The meaning of family is usually a group of people that are related by marriage or blood. The founder of Functionalism was Emile Durkhiem. Functionalists share the same ontological view of Marxists, this view is the belief that man is weak, man is passive and society is strong. Functionalists believe that society is something that is based on value consensus (meaning a set of shared norms and values). Within the society, it socialises with its institutions and this gives the ability to meet the needs and goals of society. Functionalists also have a biological analogy and compare society to a living thing. For an example, the institutions (the organs of society) need to be healthy for it to work when its ‘sick’ society contains a lot of anomie (lack of shared norms and values). The family meets the needs of society such as the need to socialise children. Functionalists see the family as an important sub-system. George Peter Murdock (1949) says that the family is universal, always has been and always will be. Murdock argues that the family has four functions that are needed in order to meet the needs of society and its members. Firstly, he believes that there is a function within the family that is called, Stable satisfaction of the sex drive – this is with the same partner and is the prevention of social disruption which is ultimately caused by a sexual ‘free-for-all’. Secondly, Reproduction of the next generation – without this essential function, society would seize to exist. Thirdly, Socialisation of the young – this is where the young are socialised into society’s shared norms and values. Lastly, Meeting its members economic needs – for example the society provides food and shelter. On the other hand, other sociologists have criticised his functionalist approach. Feminists and Marxists both have
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