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Evaluate The Functionalist Theory Of The Family

1393 words - 6 pages

Evaluate the functionalist theory of the familyIn this essay, I intend to analyse some of the theories behind the functionalist perspective of the family, it is my intention to look at two main theorists in this field, Murdock and Parsons. I to analyse their theories and give objective argument for the pros and cons of the functionalist family. I intend to break this down by looking at the theorists separately and then looking at arguments against the functionalist family.Sociology, second edition by Giddens 1993, states that functionalism is a theoretical perspective based on the notion that social events can be explained in functions they perform, that is the contribution they make to the continuity of society. Breaking this down further, Murdock (1949) states that the definition of the family is "a social group, characterised by common residents, economic co-operation and reproduction, it includes adults of both sexes, at least two of whom maintain as socially approved sexual relationship and one or more children are own or adopted of the sexually cohabiting adults".The structures of the family varies from society to society, the smallest family group is the nuclear family, and consists of a husband and wife, and the immature offspring , units larger than the nuclear family are known as extended families, and can be seen as extensions of the nuclear family. This can have vertical extensions, for example, older members of the family living in the same household. A grandmother or grandfather, and also can have horizontal extensions, an example of this would be a brother-in-law or sister-in-law of the spouses living in the same house. But functionalists felt that the nuclear family was most adapted to the functionalist theory, as it is insular and mobile therefore aiding society, by keeping up with economic movement, but in the process becoming detached from the extended family support.Murdoch carried out an analysis of the 250 societies and felt that the family carried out for basic functions. In all societies, these were sexual, reproductive, economic and educational functions. He felt that these were all linked. Without sex and reproduction there would be no procreation, there would be no members of society to create an economy therefore not providing an economic function, for example, the provision and preparation of food, and without education there would be no culture. He felt that the society without culture couldn't function. The functionalist point of view of the family structure was bound together by all aspects of the four main functions. The husband and wife have a right to sexual access together, abiding by the rules of the society, they are in, by indulging in sexual gratification they will keep the relationship monogamous, keeping the spouses of the unit together by their emotional and physical ties. By doing this it will contain sexual activity, to the family group and prevent disruptive effects on social order, this then provides...

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