Sex Roles In The American Kinship, Talcott Parsons

1336 Words6 Pages
Gender roles and the function they serve in our society have been known to be a complex system of statuses, viewpoints, and other elements that bring together a particular type of stratification within our culture today. Talcott Parsons developed a model for this system of stratification that analyzed the popular mid 20th century form of the nuclear family. In his article, “Sex Roles in the American Kinship System,” Parsons lays down his beliefs that the roles we play as male and female are essential to creating a functional and productive kinship. Through setting out a particular structure that will potentially ensure that competition and conflict will be avoided, Parsons asserts that these kinship groups act as functioning units of stratification within our society. This paper aims to clarify the strengths of Parsons’ arguments, such as the functionality and effectiveness of certain systems within our culture, while contrasting the outdated viewpoints which he presents that might not be as applicable in today’s modern times considering the amount of social changes and open opportunities that are now available to both sexes. Parsons introduces his ideas on the “kinship system” by discussing the family structure, focusing in on the various life stages that a child goes through to emancipate themselves from the ties they have gained from their parents and other family members. The familiarity and comfort of such ties eventually become a burden and must be cut off in order for an individual to become a fully functional member of our society. The article goes on to state that one of the most difficult stages of growing older would be adolescence, where a “youth culture” is practiced, allowing for a passageway meant to ease “the difficult process of adjustment from childhood emotional dependency to full ‘maturity’” (Parsons 1943: 301). This serves to provide one
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