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Assess The View That The Family Performs Vital, Positive Functions For Society And Individual Members.

1419 words - 6 pages

The family was once described as a social group that shared common residence, consisted of at least two adults of each sex that maintained a socially approved sexual relationship and had one or more children, their own or adopted. This is a nuclear family, described by George Murdoch to be a universal family type. Although it is correct to say that nuclear families reside universally, family types now vary from single-parent families to gay headed families. Despite the variety, they contribute to the society, in ways that can be positive and negative too. Many sociologists differ in their views as to whether the family is positive to the society or not- functionalists believe that the family has positive functions that contribute positively to the society but it has to be said that functionalists tend to ignore negative aspects of the family such as the 'dark side', which consists of all that makes the family a negative experience for its members. Nevertheless there are sociologists that focus on only the negative aspects, such as, radical psychiatrists, radical feminists and Marxists. The new right theory has faith that family is a positive function of the society, however new rights only refer to nuclear families, as they believe that any other family type is inferior.Functionalism is a consensus theory which looks at society positively. Functionalists often make an organic analogy, as a human body is maintained by the functions of each part of a body, keeping it alive and healthy, similarly, and society is kept going by its institutions- family being one of the institutions which function to sustain the well-being of society. It is recognised by functionalists that families change themselves over time for the sake of adapting to society, an exemplar would be leading functionalist Emile Durkheim who strongly believed that family was the most important institution of society. Durkheim believed that family positively functioned for both individuals and society. The family, he believed, is the institution that offers its members emotional support, stability and gives them their identity as primary socialisers, and to an extent, teaches them how they should act toward the rest of society. Thus he proves that they perform a positive function to society too, as they provide fundamental social order and stability, which helps to prevent the society from becoming disordered. Talcott Parson's was a functionalist who analysed the families from a modern perspective and came to a conclusion that although families have less functions, as they are provided with help from outside agencies, they still perform two important functions which determine the actions within a society. These two functions focus on individuals- the first being the socialisation of children primarily, into the responsible, committed individuals that society can benefit from and the second is the stabilisation of adult personalities, as he stated that it was family who help ease away...

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