Disclaimer: This is an example of a student written essay.
Click here for sample essays written by our professional writers.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UKEssays.com.

Analysing Changes In Family Structure Sociology Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 1523 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

Reference this

Functionalists view the family as a nuclear family and assume that the family is a positive beneficial institution in which family members receive unconditional love, nurturing and care. They believe that society is based on consensus that is we are all socialised to agree on how to behave thus reproducing norms and values. Fuctionalists look at society on macro scale.

Get Help With Your Essay

If you need assistance with writing your essay, our professional essay writing service is here to help!

Essay Writing Service

Murdock (1949) states that the family is universal because without the sexual and reproduction there would not be new members in the family and without economic and educational, where the family provide for its members and the young are socialised into societies norms and values, culture would not exist. In the absence of culture human society could not function. (Haralambos and Holborn, 2008).

Parsons (1955) states that there are two irreducible functions of the family, primary socialisation through which children learn to accept the norms and values of society and stabilisation of adult families that is helping the adults to cope with stresses of everyday life by giving them the necessary emotional support. The emotional support of spouses in marriage helps prevent stress overpowering the individual and frightening the stability of society. (Taylor and Richardson etl, 2002)

Parsons explains that conjugal roles in functionalism family are segregated everyone carrying out different roles, instrumental male going to work to provide for the family and expressive females providing love, warmth and care for children. Based on Biology the woman is the child bearer and has to look after the child. These roles maintain social stability. Functionalists argues there is rise of reconstituted families, increase of single or lone parent families and changes in the law on divorce have made divorce easier to obtain.

Norms and value in functionalism benefit society for example respect keeps peace and social stability, loyalty keeps social solidarity and lack of crime maintains social order, peace and safety therefore a conflict free society.

Functionalism assumes that the family is positive and nuclear while Marxism argues that the family is negative and extended and reproduces conflict between classes. Functionalists also assume that the family has equal benefit to everyone however Marxists argue that the capitalist economy depend on the family to purchase and work to produce goods that will benefit the capitalist society. Functionalists states that the nuclear family is responsible for socialisation while radical psychiatrists see this as negative because socialisation can be negative hence causing racial attitudes, criminal behaviour and violence because not all norms and values are positive.

Functionalism depicts he nuclear family as ” rosy” and don’t take into account domestic violence while interactionalists shows problems, issues and struggles in marriage and the fact that an ideal nuclear family might divorce, not all families are the same. Parsons do not see the family as diverse. For even within society there are distinctions founded on class, region, ethnicity and religion. (Taylor and Richardson etl, 2002)

Feminist perspective is a conflict theory that argues that the family reproduces patriarchy where men benefit from the family. They also argue that men oppress women through domestic violence also known “the dark side of the family” meaning not reported or don’t tell anyone. Feminists have also highlighted domestic duties due to gender distinctions within the family for example women cooking and cleaning. Feminist theory has made sociologists to view the family as an institution involving power relationships.

Liberal feminists like Wollstonecraft, 1792 wanted to get legal reforms in equity whereby women get same equality and justice as men. Radical feminists think that all men benefit from women’s oppression not just patriarchal men. They thought that gender distinctions are politically and socially constructed. Kate Millet came out with the term “The personal is political”.

Sociolist Feminist/Marxist looks at gender as the basis and socialist Marxist combine gender with class. They believe there is dual oppression of women for example women going to work as well as working at home. Marxist feminist believe destruction of the capitalist society brings equality to everything. Lesbian feminist look at politics as political antique of the ideology of heterosexuality which leads to male supremacy. Humanist feminist believe that society allows only men to self-develop not women.

Marxist feminist basic position is that the family with its exploitation of women serves the needs and perpetuate capitalism. Bentson argues “As an economic unit, the nuclear family is a valuable stabilizing force in capitalist society. Since the husbands-father’s earnings pay for the production which is done in the home, his ability to withhold labour from the market is much reduced”. Bentson, 1972. (Haralambos and Holborn, 2008, pg466).

Find Out How UKEssays.com Can Help You!

Our academic experts are ready and waiting to assist with any writing project you may have. From simple essay plans, through to full dissertations, you can guarantee we have a service perfectly matched to your needs.

View our services

Ansley, 1972 shows the emotional support in family stabilises male workers and makes them less likely to take their frustration out of the system. Feely, 1972 argues that the family value teaches obedience to children therefore learning to accept hierarchy of power and their position within it. Greer, 2000 a radical feminist states that families in Britain are not as stable as they were, with the divorce rate becoming high. According to Geer it is due to women not being happy as wives and no longer wants oppression from their husbands.

Marxist feminism tends to ignore the diversity of modern family life assuming that everyone lives in heterosexual nuclear families. They also paint a very negative picture of family life possibly exaggerated for example they don’t focus on the influence racism might affect families. They portray women as passive victims of capitalist and patriarchal exploitation.

They ignore the likelihood of women fighting back against exploitation and succeeded in changing the nature of family relationships.it does not take into account women who abuse men. Functionalists assume that everyone benefit in the family for example respect keeps peace and solidarity in society while feminists argues that it’s only men who benefit for women are taught to respect men. functionalists states that conjugal roles are segregated where everyone carries different roles while feminists argue that the segregation causes unequal division of labour, captivity of women in families through forced free labour.

The Marxist perspective of family is that family is socially constructed and negative thus reproducing conflict between classes. It also benefits the bourgeoisie by creating labour force. Engel, 1972 argued the monogamous bourgeois nuclear family developed to help solve the problems of inheritance of private property from father to son then to son therefore keeping wealth in the family. The family is designed to control women and protect property. The bourgeois nuclear family emerged with capitalism. Engel concluded that the family is patriarchal and benefits men, he said it is designed to guarantee and perpetuate male power through inheritance of property therefore serving the interest of capitalism.

Marxists say the family serves capitalism by socialising children thereby reproducing both labour power and false consciousness. Women’s domestic work is unpaid which benefits capitalists. The family acts as a safety valve for the stresses and frustrations of working class men. The family as a unit of consumption buys the goods and services provided by capitalism. Zaretsky, 1976 claimed that the family “props up” capitalism. He also believes the family uses the products of capitalism and this makes the bourgeoisie to reproduce surplus value. The family is one place that male workers can feel that they have power and control. This helps them accept their oppression in wider society.

Marxists view increased economic pressure from unemployment may place added strain resulting to divorce. They also state that family members are living longer and this could increase pressure on relationships.

Marxists view the socialisation process in the family results in the transmission of a ruling class ideology whereby individuals are deceived into accepting the capitalist system and the dominance of the capitalist class more or less without question while functionalists view the socialisation process within the family as encouraging compliance with desirable norms and values which contribute to overall social stability. The Marxist view ignores family diversity and sees the nuclear family as being simply determined by the economy. Anthropologists have suggested that the emergence of the nuclear family didn’t actually coincide with the emergence of capitalism. Somerville, 2000 argues that Zaretsky exaggerates the advantage of the family as a refuge from life in capitalist society.


Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Related Services

View all

DMCA / Removal Request

If you are the original writer of this essay and no longer wish to have your work published on UKEssays.com then please: