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The Marxist And Functionalist Perspectives On The Family

1285 words - 5 pages

The Marxist and Functionalist Perspectives on the Family

For the purpose of this essay question I will discuss the Marxist and
the Functionalist perspectives on the Family. I will compare and
contrast them and give a critical analysis of each and place them in
historical context as well as modern day. In Britain today there are
many different types of families. A social unit living together
defines what a family is. The family resembles the core feature of
society. Both Marxist and Functionalist perspectives believe the
family is what holds society together and helps socialise the future
generations.

There are three types of family existing in today’s society. The
nuclear family resembles a family unit made up of no more than two
generations, stereotyped as a mother, father and 2.4 children. The
extended family refers to a family unit made of many three generations
or more who live with each other or near by. This type is typical of
pre-industrial or ‘primitive’ societies. The third type of family is
the reconstituted. This type has become more apparent in modern day
society. It refers to adults who have married before and have brought
their children from the first marriage to the second, creating a new
family unit. It is important to note that not every household includes
a family – for example student flats.

The functionalist perspective believe society is like a machine in
that all its institutions sustain continuity and consensus and keep
society running smoothly. Functionalists believe the family
contributes to society’s basic needs and helps maintain social order.
Functionalists have been criticised for placing too much emphasis on
the nuclear family. George Murdock and Talcott Parsonss were two of
the most influential figures to contribute to the functionalist
perspectives of the family. They both agreed the family is the best
organisational basis for modern industrial societies. George Murdock
focussed his family theory on the four basics: Sexual, reproductive,
economic and educative (socialisation). He believed without sexual and
reproductive aspects there would be no existing members of society.
Without economy there would be no means to provide for the family.
Without education there would be no culture and human society without
culture could not function. Murdock appreciate than apart from this
the family performed many more functions for society. Murdock
critically claimed that the nuclear family was universal. Murdock did
not appreciate alternative studies such as Banaro, New Guinea where
instead of the ‘father’ being biological to his son/daughter, in fact
the father’s friend was the biological father to his friend’s
son/daughter. Murdock believed families were joined by a common
residence, economic cooperation and reproduction. Talcott Parsons on
the other...

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