Functionalist View of the Family

1317 WordsNov 16, 20146 Pages
Assess the usefulness of the functionalist view for an understanding of the family today? Functionalism is a structural theory. In functionalism, social institutes like families are the key parts of the structure/system. These institutions are seen as working in an integrated way that keeps society in a state of consensus. Functionalists stress the positive role of a family for society and its members. They argue that the families’ role is universal and functional. A famous functionalist, called Murdock believed that the family is a social group characterised by common residence, economic co-operation and reproduction. It includes adults of both sexes, at least two of whom maintain a socially approved sexual relationship. Murdock…show more content…
Similarly, they believe that a nuclear family with segregated conjugal roles is the best place to socialise children. And the second assumption is that families should be self-reliant. This means that they believe that reliance on the state welfare leads to a dependency culture, which undermines traditional gender roles and produces family breakdowns and lone-parent families. Lack of a male role model for boy’s results in social problems and delinquency. This shows that the new right agreed with the functionalists that the nuclear, segregated conjugal role family was the best and it helps back up the functionalist’s view of the usefulness of the family in modern society. Functionalists believe that the family’s main function is to socialise the children. This is why they believe that it is important to maintain the nuclear family with 2 role models to carry on this socialisation. However, Marxists would disagree and would claim that the function of the family is to support capitalism. The Marxists would argue that the functionalist’s view of the family wasn’t useful. Marxism is a conflict view of society. It sees modern Britain in two classes, the bourgeoisie, and the proletariat. Marxists see all institutions in a capitalist society as contributing to the maintenance of exploitation. The family was seen as an oppressive institution that performs several important functions for capitalism. Engels,
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