Conflicting Perspectives of the Ideal Family Essay

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Task 1: ‘Functionalist accounts of the family underestimate the extent of conflict within families’. Discuss with reference to relevant sociological theories and examples.
The Functionalist sociologist, Murdock (1949) defined the ‘family as a social group characterised by common residence, economic co-operation and reproduction’ (Sociology In Focus p62). He claimed it must include adults of both sexes of whom maintain a socially accepted sexual relationship, and own or adopted, of the sexually cohabiting adults. Murdock's definition is focuses on the Nuclear family stereotypically made up of a ‘two-generation family heterosexual couples with offspring’ (Moore, Chapman and Aiken p136). This definition of the family is popular
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(2004),for example, conflict between husband and wife, child abuse and male dominance etc. They also pay less attention on the harmful effects the family may have on the wider society. Unlike the Marxists, the functionalists never consider variations in family life based on class, ethnicity, religion and locality.
However according to Willmott and Young, the pre-industrial family tended to be nuclear, not extended as claimed by Parsons with parents and children working together in cottage industries such as weaving. They also argue that the hardship of these early industrial periods gave rise to the mother centered working class extended family, based on ties between mother and their married daughters who relied on each other for financial, practical and emotional support.
Marxists view the family in a very disparaging light and views the family as a tool of Capitalism and the Bourgeoisie. Marxists believe that the family has many roles, which are beneficial to Capitalist society. Marxists believe that the family aids Capitalism by being a big consumer of goods, which they have to pay for. As long as the families are around, people will keep buying the product and the bourgeoisie will continue to make money. Marxists also believe that housewives are producing the next generation of the proletariat. This means that more people will be created to fill the jobs of the retiring proletariat. Marxists believe that the family

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