Compare and Contrast the Functionalist and Marxist views on the Family

1508 WordsFeb 1, 20157 Pages
Compare and Contrast the Functionalist and Marxist views on the Family Functionalists argue that societies consist of inter-related social institutions such as schools, mass media, political systems, the Church and the family each of which contribute positively to the maintenance of stability of society as a whole. Broadly speaking it is assumed by functionalists that societies operate in the interests of all of their members so that there is no reason for fundamental conflict in society. Instead there is a high degree of consensus that societies are organised efficiently and relatively fairly. According to Herbert Spencer, the family performs functions which are necessary for the society, as a whole, to operate smoothly with little or no…show more content…
These are the socialization of children and the stabilization of adult personalities (warm bath theory). Although this idea seems to make some logical sense, it is highly criticized by the Marxist, Zaretsky, who dismissed the theory mainly because the family itself can often be the cause of emotional upset and stress within individuals. He argued that it is not always possible for the family to sustain the pressure and cushion all the shocks and frustration of the workplace. Ronald Fletcher also analyses the family from a Functionalist perspective but he denies that the modern nuclear family has lost functions to the extent suggested By Talcott Parsons. Thus Fletcher argues that even if the family is no longer a unit of production, it is a unit of consumption which can be appealed to by advertisers keen to sell a wide range of household appliances so as to maintain profits for the bourgeoisie. Marxists view the family in a very disparaging light and regard the family as a tool of capitalism and the bourgeoisie. Marxists believe that the family has many roles which are beneficial to the capitalist society. Zaretsky conducted his study in 1976 and concluded that the family was the key ingredient for capitalism as the family consumes the products of capitalism which enables the bourgeoisie to keep profits up and allows the capitalist system to continue. He argues that the family served interest of capitalism in various ways, namely,
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