Assess the contribution of functionalism to our understanding of families and households. Functionalists have different views to how the family should be formed and the roles and responsibilities within them. There are how ever opposing theories form conflict theories. Functionalist sociologists believe that the family is vital for the build and survival of society. With family being the primary factor for being the way that we act functionalists believe it is important that the family socialises the children properly so that they can pass on these norms and values, This will there for ensure that the children will confirm to laws and rules.
Similarly the operation of any society is dependent on its social institutions as they provide vital functions which maintain harmony, stability and solidarity within a society. G P Murdock and Talcott Parsons are the main Functionalists of family. According to Talcott Parsons the family has lost many of its functions, but still has two important functions. The primary socialisation of children: children learn norms and values in their society from their parents, who teach them what is right and what is wrong. Murdock argued that the nuclear family was a universal social institution and has four important parts to play in keeping society functioning: reproductive, economic, sexual and education function.
There are different views on the functionalism of the family and these views can change over time, between societies and between people in the same society. One man who expressed his functionalist view on the family was Murdock. He felt that the family was at the heart of society and that the nuclear family (mother, father and two or more children) was so useful to society it is inevitable and universal. This suggests that Murdock thought that the family was a natural part of society and happens all over the world. He felt that the family was multi-functional and could do a lot of things that needed to be done in modern day culture.
Though having offspring is why marriage is created marriage should be based on the basis of how two people love one another. 4 is a prescriptive premise because the value statement of traditional customs is the only reason why society does not accept BREAKING DOWN, DIAGRAMMING AND ANALYZING ARGUMENTS 3 gay marriage. 9 is a prescriptive premise because it contains a value statement between marriage and raising children. 2 [In the United States marriage is understood to be the decision of two people to live together and be a partnership, a
Item 2B “For functionalist sociologists, the family is an important institution in society. They see the family as having a number of roles essential to the smooth running of society. For example, the family is seen as key to socialising children into the norms and values of society. Other sociologists argue that the functionalist view is too uncritical and ignores the conflict that takes place within the family.” For functionalist sociologists the family is an important institution in the modern day society. Functionalists like Murdock, Parsons and Fletcher see the family as having a number of essential roles to give a ‘smooth running society.’ George Murdock, a functionalist, looked at 250 societies in the US.
The approach presents the family as a family isolated from wider kinships because of the mobility required by labour markets in industrial societies. The image that functionalists create of the family involves the support for the nuclear family from the wider welfare state. It also suggests that any childcare for the family would be provided by non-family agencies, for example; playgroups. The usefulness of this ‘privatised nuclear family’ is that it gives closure within the family, allowing stability and support. It’s beneficial as there are male and female role models available for the children, and it gives the parents more control of how their children are brought up.
Assess the contribution of functionalism to our understanding of families and households Due to functionalism’s very positive outlook on family life; functionalism can be seen as only ever looking at the harmony of family life and therefore ignoring the possible conflicts and any negative sides of family life. Functionalists argue that families perform vital functions for society and without the stability they claim society would eventually fall apart; functionalists produce a list of the functions performed by family life such as socialisation, identity and reproduction, they claim that without the structure of family this all wouldn’t be able to occur. Functionalists also describe how the family is perpetually changing its structure and functions as society has changed in order to keep up with the new needs of society as they arise. Murdock argues that because families perform such functions as; socialisation, identity, reproduction, it then goes to makes the family a universal institution. As in performing these functions the family links up with other institutions, providing future pupils for education, workers for the economy, and so on.
Functionalism is based on the view that society is a system of interdependent parts held together by a shared culture or value consensus. Item A says, "while the family can provide young people with basic values and some useful practical skills." Functionalists believe that families socialise their children and teach them the values and norms of society and the item supports this as it talks about the family providing values. However, the item goes on to say,"it cannot equip individuals with everything they need in order to become fully functioning members of a large-scale society". This supports the functionalist view that the education system prepares young people for their future work roles.
The specialist functions performed by the family, according to Parsons, include primary socialisation. By primary socialisation Parsons meant that parents teach children society’s norms and values. Whilst Marxists would agree with functionalists that the family performs a key function in socialising children, they disagree about whose values children are socialised into. Marxists believe that the family is controlled by the ruling class, who use it and other institutions to control people’s ideas and values. In this way, children are socialised into values which benefit capitalism, such as acceptance of hierarchy and inequality, not the ‘universal’ values of society as functionalists believe.
For example, Murdock saw the family as reproducing the next generation and socializing them into the shared culture. He also saw the family as meeting its member’s economic needs and satisfying adult’s sexual needs in a way that does not disrupt social order. However, his belief that its remaining functions are 'basic and irreducible' prevents him from examining alternatives. Significant to his criticism, his view of socialization can be questioned. He sees it as a one-way process, with the children being pumped full of culture and their personalities being moulded by powerful parents.