Families and Household
The role of the family within our society has always been hard to explain. Functionalist theorists like George Murdock (1949) and Talcott Parsons (1959) considers the family a mechanism' that exists to complement societal needs for new generations with identical norms and values. Marxists like Engels and Zeretsky have a narrower viewpoint on the family in terms of societal use. They consider the family to be a more oppressive force that teaches the young about to the "harsh truth of capitalism" (Hutton, W 1997), and creates generations of single track minded individuals who obey without question. Feminists take a more diverse approach that varies from Liberal feminists like Jenny Somerville (2000) who support the march of progress views of Young and Willmot (1973). At the same time Marxists like Frann Ansley (1972) claims that the family is merely a tool of reproduction for the capitalist system and Germaine Greer (2000) a well known Radical Feminist claims that men have corrupted the true purpose of the family and that women should develop an alternative form of family away from the male egocentric society.
Functionalist believe that family as an institution has 4 main functions that benefit society e.g. Sexual, reproductive, economic and educational. This view is strongly supported by George Murdock (1949) in his study of 250 societies which was the origin of the theory that the family structure is culturally universal (www.education-portal.com). Talcott Parsons (1959) however states that there are in fact only 2 main functions that the family performs. The first, Primary socialisation of children occurs at the early years of a child's life. During which the family plays a very critical role, which is later taken on by other institutions e.g. School, government, police and religion, this is known as secondary socialisation (www.vcampus.uom.ac.mu). The second function is stabilization of adult personalities which strongly relates to Talott Parsons (1959) 'warm bath ' theory. The family functions like 'a warm bath', providing the adult members with emotional security that they require to function in accordance to the societal laws (Web Et Al 2008). This role also provides parental figures an opportunity to express their childish whims through their children. The family is responsible for teaching the new generations about the life, norms and values. Without culture, the society could not survive, and too much deviation from the norm would disrupt the stability of the society. While one of the more favourable theories Functionalists have a problem explaining rapid social change e.g. Revolutions. This is because of the emphasis their perspective puts on consensus created through the socialisation process and functional dependence and necessity.
Marxists are firm believers that the Bourgeoisie are responsible for all Proletarian problems. They believe that the family serves an ideological functions (a...