Sociology – families and households Essay

essay B

Get Full Essay

Get access to this section to get all the help you need with your essay and educational goals.

Get Access

Functionalism is a structuralist theory. This means it sees the person as less of import as the societal construction of society. It is a ‘top down ‘ theory. The household can be defined as an intimate domestic group composed of people related to each other by blood, sexual dealingss and legal ties. When measuring how utile functionalism is when looking at the household, other views/perspectives need to be taken into history before doing an overall decision. Positions from Talcott Parsons, George Murdock, Ann Oakley, Edmund Leach, R.D Laing, David Cooper and Friedrich Engels will be taken into history every bit good as positions from Marxism, feminism, household diverseness and extremist head-shrinkers. This will assist pull the concluding decision.

Functionalist sociologists suggest that the atomic household is the norm in modern twenty-four hours industrial societies.

George Peter Murdock ( 1949 ) supports the thought of functionalism. After analyzing 250 societies, Murdock argues that the household performs four basic maps ; sexual, generative, economic and educational. These are the necessities for societal life, since without sexual and generative maps there would be no members of society, without economic maps life would discontinue, and without instruction there would be no civilization. Human society without civilization could non work. Clearly, the household can non execute these maps entirely. However, it makes of import parts to them all and no other establishment has yet been devised to fit its efficiency in this regard. A failing of Murdock ‘s position is that some sociologists may happen his description of the household about excessively good to be true. Some of his positions on harmoniousness and integrating are non shared be other research workers. He besides does non analyze options to the household, non sing whether its maps could be carried out by other societal establishments. Murdock is criticised for being Euro-centric, as he is merely concerned about the Western households. However, he is supported by anthropologists ; Morris ( 1968 ) said the household was a consequence of biological science and civilization over coevalss ( socio-biology ) . This could be a strength as it shows some research workers have the same position.

Talcott Parsons bases his thoughts on the household in modern American society. However, despite this his thoughts have more general application since he claims the American household has two ‘basic and irreducible ‘ maps which are common to the household in all societies, unlike Murdock who argued there were four. These were, the primary socialisation of kids, where civilization is learned and accepted by kids so they know the norms and values that allow society to be. Second the stabilisation of grownup personalities, which is where a matrimony relationship and emotional security a twosome provide for each other keeps a personality stable, and acts as a counterbalance to mundane emphasiss and strains that can do a personality unstable. This procedure is otherwise known as the ‘warm bath ‘ theory, where the household provide a relaxing environment for the male worker to plunge himself in after a difficult twenty-four hours at work. A unfavorable judgment of Parsons position would be that he idealises the household, much like Murdock, with his position of good adjusted kids and sympathetic partners caring for each others every demand, when in world non all households are like this. Besides Parsons fails to research the differences between working/middle category households, as his thoughts are by and large based on the American in-between category household. Parsons perspective supports that of functionalism, that the atomic household is the norm in society.

Ann Oakley has described the typical or ‘conventional ‘ household. She says conventional households are atomic households composed of lawfully married twosomes, voluntarily taking the parentage of one or more kids. This shows support for functionalism. Leach ( 1967 ) has called this the ‘cereal package image of the household ‘ . This image of a merrily married twosome with two kids is outstanding in advertisement and the ‘family sized ‘ packages of cereal and other merchandises are aimed at this group.

The household is functional for both its members and society as a whole. Increasingly this image of the household is coming under strong unfavorable judgment. Some perceivers are proposing that on balance, the household may good be dysfunctional both for society and its single members. This unfavorable judgment has chiefly been directed at the household in Western industrial society.

The Marxist position on the household opposes that of the functionalists. It is seen to dispute the thought that the household is cosmopolitan or natural, but alternatively that it is human creative activity ; a societal innovation that has served a specific economic intent. The Marxist theory on the household emerged from the work of Friedrich Engels. It is argued by Marxists that the working-class extended household has been intentionally discouraged by the capitalist opinion category, because its accent on a common support system and corporate action encourages its members to be cognizant of their societal category place. It is believed that the atomic household under capitalist jurisprudence in an ‘anti-social ‘ household. It labels all other signifiers of household life as inferior and unnatural. However, a failing of the Marxist position is that there is a inclination to speak about ‘the household ‘ in capitalist society without respect to possible fluctuations in household life between societal categories.

Family diverseness supports the fact that the ‘conventional household ‘ no longer makes up the bulk of families or households. For illustration, adult females no longer draw a bead on entirely to romantic love, matrimony and kids. There are now acceptable alternate life styles some people prefer, such as pre-marital sex, consecutive monogamousness, cohabitation, single-sex relationships, childlessness etc. Men ‘s functions excessively are no longer clear in a postmodern society, and the resulting ‘crisis of maleness ‘ has lead to adult male redefining both their gender and household committednesss. Others disagree with this position. They argue that household diverseness is exaggerated, and that the basic characteristics of household life have remained mostly unchanged for the bulk of the population. Nuclear households are still really common – but alternate types of household are steadily increasing.

When looking at a critical position of the household, extremist psychopathology mat be taken into history. Edmund Leach supported the thought in the household there is excessively much emotional force per unit area on each person to populate up to outlooks. R.D Laing associated schizophrenic disorder with the emotional force per unit area and anxiousness of the atomic household. David Cooper suggested the personality of the person is controlled by the household, coercing them to conform to the regulations of both the household, coercing them to conform to the regulations of both the household and wider society. These three extremist research workers all agree that the household is a unsafe topographic point and mental unwellness could be the consequence of force per unit areas laid down to the person. From this angle it can be seen that the household has a negative, this position does non hold with the position of functionalism.

Friedrich Engels acknowledges that the place of adult females within the household is an of import facet of what the Marxists see as its harmful effects. However, he emphasizes the relationship between household and capitalist economy, and is less concerned with its effects on adult females. Feminism has broken itself down into different positions, Marxist women’s rightists, broad women’s rightists and extremist women’s rightists. Friedrich Engels speaks for the Marxist women’s rightist position. Broad women’s rightists believe that both sexes contribute to domestic jobs in an ambiance of common support and hegemony, and there is an equal division of labor. Extremist women’s rightist beliefs are that the atomic household is based upon male power and serves to back up that. Male power is frequently expressed in the place as domestic force. It is seen that patriarchate is transhistorical ; it is of all time present in all societies and civilizations. A failing is that women’s rightists frequently do non take into history the possible differences in household life, for illustration, societal categories, cultural groups, heterosexual and cheery households etc. They merely seem to presume every household is a atomic household, so may overstate the consequence of households to adult females. They hence ignore the possibility of adult females contending back against development and make non see the positive side to the household.

Now that positions and thoughts knocking and back uping functionalism have been illustrated. A decision can be made. If looking at Murdock and Parsons it can be seen that they both tend to merely take into history Western societies, and tend to generalize. Apart from that they both have strong, similar thoughts on what the household is. Oakley and Leach support their thoughts on the atomic household being the bulk of society. However, although the statement back uping functionalism is sound, other positions need to be taken into position. For illustration Marxism, oppugning the thought of a universal/natural household. Family diverseness offering different options to how people choose to populate, women’s rightists stating the household exploits adult females and extremist psychopathology claiming the household is a unsafe topographic point and causes mental unwellness

Get instant access to
all materials

Become a Member
unlock