Sociology Family Change

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|Consensus/Positive views of the family |Conflict/critical views of the family | |ϑ |Λ | |Functionalist theories: the family performs positive functions |Marxist theories: the family provides important functions for | |for individuals and society |capitalism | |New Right theories: the family is the cornerstone of society, |Feminist theories: the family reinforces gender inequality and | |but it is under threat |patriarchy | ϑ Functionalist theories • Functionalist theories traditionally stress the positive role of the family in society, regarding it as beneficial and serving a number of very important functions that help maintain the very existence of society. • If the family exists (as Murdock says it does universally), then it must be performing some function(s) or fulfilling some purpose(s). A number of functionalist sociologists have presented accounts of the way in which this happens. GP Murdock: Four essential functions of the family • Murdock argues that the family is a universal institution (it exists everywhere) that performs four major functions: o Stable satisfaction of the sex drive with the same partner, preventing the social disruption caused by sexual ‘free-for-all’. o Reproduction of the next generation, without which society would not be able to continue. o Socialisation of the young into society’s shared norms and values. o Meeting its members’ economic needs, such as shelter and food. Talcott Parsons
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