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. In each of the societies family was seen as the most important institution and whilst looking at these societies he defined the family as, ‘a social group characterised by common residence, economic cooperation and reproduction. This included adults of both sexes who were socially approved with one or more children own or adopted of the sexually cohabiting adults.’ Murdock argued that the family needs to fulfil four functions, sexual, reproductive, economic and educational. Sexually, married adults who enjoy a healthy sex life prevent affairs which ensure the children are raised by the natural parents. Reproducationally, they will make the next generation.
The legalisation of Civil Partnerships in 2005 is a main reason for the increase in number of same sex families in Britain. Another type of family diversity that is greatly increasing in Britain is ethnic family units. Changes in immigration laws have led to an increase in ethnic families such as south Asian families, who have contributed to an increase in the number of vertically extended families in Britain (three or more generations living in the same household). West Indian Families have also chosen to inhabit the UK in large numbers; these households in Britain tend to have a higher number of lone parent families and matriarchal households- families led by a woman. Sociologists have different approaches to family diversity and its importance.
Sociology provides many distinctive perspectives on the world, generating new ideas and critiquing the old. The field also offers a range of research techniques that can be applied to virtually any aspect of social life: street crime and delinquency, corporate downsizing, how people express emotions, welfare or education reform, how families differ and flourish, or problems of peace and war. Because sociology addresses the most challenging issues of our time, it is a rapidly expanding field whose potential is increasingly tapped by those who craft policies and create programs. Sociologists understand social inequality, patterns of behavior, forces for social change and resistance, and how social systems work. As the following pages convey, sociology is an exciting discipline with expanding opportunities for a wide range of career paths.
However although there has always been social classes, there have been changes due to (natural changes in society). Upper class The upper class members of society are commonly associated with families who are extended who are interconnected by marriage. In terms of education, upper class choose to send their children to expensive public schools, for example, Oxford and Cambridge universities which leads to them being associated with being wealthy. In 1991 Scott argued that universities such as Oxford and Cambridge is to mould the ideas and views of pupils so that they realize the common upper-class culture interests. Upper class interests and hobbies are more likely to focus on higher cultural pursuits such as classical music, opera and ballet.
Functionalists claim that society is a system with each part making-up the whole through a system of interdependence. The harmony and cooperation that is paramount to this view is maintained through value consensus. That is, for society to be successful, ordered and integrated, everyone must agree on what is important and good, achieved by teaching and promoting shared values which create a common identity (ibid). Murdock (1949) states that families perform four essential functions; regulating and stabilising sexual relationships; reproduction through procreation; economic provision and primary socialisation (ibid). Parsons (1955) argues that nuclear families in post-industrialised societies, are more ‘specialised’ and isolated, particularly as independent units of consumption, due to factors such as increased geographical mobility and the breakdown of the extended family.
Assess the contribution of functionalist sociologists to our understanding of the family Functionalists see the family as a sub-system of society, which works alongside other factors such as the economy and education system to cooperate harmoniously to meet society’s needs and achieve shared goals. Item 2B discusses the idea that the family’s functions are “essential to the smooth running of society”. This can be criticized and countered by numerous other perspectives and theories in which I will examine throughout. The functionalist ideologies of the family include George Peter Murdock’s (1949) idea of the four essential functions. These include a stable satisfaction of the sex drive, which help prevent a sexual ‘free-for-all’.
3 Major Theoretical Approaches to Sociology Functionalism (a.k.a. Structural Functionalism, Functional Analysis, Positivism): Until relatively modern times the prevalent sociological perspective was Functionalism, a paradigm which analyzes social structures (such as religion, schooling, or race relations) to deduce what social functions (such as marriage conventions, college attendance, or hiring practices) derive from them. This theoretical approach views society as a system of inter-dependent social functions each working to maintain equilibrium and stability within the whole. The social function of marriage, for instance, might be seen to derive from a religious structure. The values, norms, and behaviors surrounding marriage (such as age limits, ‘showers’, and marriage licenses), and the ways in which these aspects of the function benefit the participants, is the ‘society’ which rises from the initial structure.
The social institution that will be covered in my final paper is family. I feel it will be a good fit for me to discuss family versus education because family has played a bigger role in my life than education. Family is definitely something that has and continues to have an impact on my life and the decisions that I make. There are many different aspects in relation to family that will be addressed in my sociological portrait. While education has helped shape who I am today, I think family has definitely played a bigger role in my life and who I am.
The effectiveness of each of these techniques relied much upon social factors at the time, including the rise of consumerism and product output, society’s insatiable need to ‘keep up with the Jones’s’, the desire for free time and family life, and also technological advancements into the era of radio and television. The first half of the twentieth century brought with it massive change and an onslaught of technological advancements, which resulted in vast amounts of product output and supply.  The decade from 1919 saw a huge growth in the private ownership of cars, radios, phones, washing machines, vacuums, fridges and other goods.  As discussed by Sheumaker, mass industrialisation along with new products and increased market competition saw advertisers create new methods to encourage the