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Functions Of The Family Essay

827 words - 4 pages

Asses the contribution of functionalism to our understanding of families and households. (24 marks)

A family is hard to define but some of the characteristics of a family are: they live in the same accommodation (although not always), they share their wealth and resources, they socialise their children and prepare them for later life by teaching them skills and also they tend to reproduce children. There is many different types of families: nuclear families, lone parent families and even extended families. The nuclear family is based on two adults of the opposite sex and 1.8 children. Other relatives may be added to create an extended family. If grandparents and even greater ...view middle of the document...

George Murdock (1949) a functionalist says that the family has four functions which are sexual, reproduction, educational and economical. The first function is regulation of sexual activity this benefits the individual as the couple can have a fun time together and also it stops sexual chaos which is a benefit to the society. Reproduction which is another function is when couples living together produce children more regularly in a setting where fathers can protect mothers and new-borns. Without reproduction our society wouldn’t be able to continue. Another function is socialisation where the children learn norms and values and each adult teaches children of the same sex about their future roles. The last function is provision of economic support and the necessities of life thought the division of domestic labour, the men undertake hard tasks and women do the lighter tasks to all keep the economy going, However Murdock’s harmonious consensus view of the family is criticised by feminists who see the family as serving needs of men and oppressing women and also by the Marxists who argue that the needs of capitalism not of their family members or society as a whole.
Talcott Parson (1959) is another functionalist who says that the family can perform many functions. The functions that it performs will depend on the needs of the society. This is known as the functional fit theory. He states that the family has two basic functions: primary socialisation- teaching children the basic norms and values of society and Stabilisation of adult...

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