Theories of the Family
Functionalism

Miss Russell
Bilton School
To Start: Murdock Re-Cap
What were Murdock’s Functions?
Create EITHER:
1) An Mnemonic (e.g. ‘My Very Easy Method
Just Spee...
Thinking Ladder…

To

&

Parson’s
Functional Fit Theory.
To
&
Parson’s
distinction between family
types.
To
the
functional...
How will I know if I am learning?
By the end of the lesson…
E

Will be able to define Parson’s idea of a Nuclear &
Extende...
Agree or Not?

“The traditional family of
2 parents and their 2
dependent children is
the best type of family.”

Charlotte...
Talcott Parsons’ Functional Fit Theory (1955)
 The family may meet other needs:

◦ Welfare, military, political, religiou...
A History Re-Cap
What was the Industrial Revolution?
How did it affect society?
How do you think it might have
affected fa...
Pre Industrial Vs Post Industrial
Using pages 39-40 of your textbook, create a table to
compare the families that occurred...
Industrial society has two different needs:
1. A geographically mobile workforce
◦
◦

People need to move to where the job...
Industrial society has two different needs:

2.
◦

◦

◦

A socially mobile workforce
Modern industrial society is based on...
Parsons’ Functional Fit Theory
• Two basic types of society
– Modern industrial society
– Traditional pre-industrial socie...
Parsons’ Functional Fit Theory
• Parsons argues that the nuclear family is better
equipped than the extended family to mee...
Loss of Functions
 The pre-industrial family was a multi-functional unit
◦ A unit of production (working together on the ...
As a result:
• The modern nuclear family comes to specialise
in performing just two essential or ‘irreducible’
functions:
...
Evidence?
Read the information sheet. Use the information to address the following
questions. Write a couple of sentences ...
Strengths and weaknesses of the Functionalist
Perspective

Use the sheet to fill in the
gaps and reveal the
strengths and
...
Charlotte Russell

Bilton School
Functionalism:

What?

The Functionalist perspective argues that social
institutions each have their own function in order...
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  1. 1. Theories of the Family Functionalism Miss Russell Bilton School
  2. 2. To Start: Murdock Re-Cap What were Murdock’s Functions? Create EITHER: 1) An Mnemonic (e.g. ‘My Very Easy Method Just Speeds up Naming Planets’) 2) Or an Acronym (e.g. using the first letter ‘RSVP’ ‘ASAP’) This will help you remember the functions for the exam! Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  3. 3. Thinking Ladder… To & Parson’s Functional Fit Theory. To & Parson’s distinction between family types. To the functionalist perspective using both strengths and weaknesses.
  4. 4. How will I know if I am learning? By the end of the lesson… E Will be able to define Parson’s idea of a Nuclear & Extended family. C Will be able to explain Parson’s Functional fit theory of the family. A Will be able to evaluate the functionalism perspective using both strengths and weaknesses.
  5. 5. Agree or Not? “The traditional family of 2 parents and their 2 dependent children is the best type of family.” Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  6. 6. Talcott Parsons’ Functional Fit Theory (1955)  The family may meet other needs: ◦ Welfare, military, political, religious functions  The functions and structure of a family it will depend on the social construction. It will fit the needs of the society in which it is found.  Parsons (1955) argues there are two types of family structure: ◦ Nuclear family (parents and dependent children) ◦ Extended family (three generations living under one roof) Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  7. 7. A History Re-Cap What was the Industrial Revolution? How did it affect society? How do you think it might have affected families? Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  8. 8. Pre Industrial Vs Post Industrial Using pages 39-40 of your textbook, create a table to compare the families that occurred in the two different types of society according to Parsons. Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  9. 9. Industrial society has two different needs: 1. A geographically mobile workforce ◦ ◦ People need to move to where the jobs are Parsons argues it is easier for the compact twogeneration nuclear family, with just dependent children, to move Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  10. 10. Industrial society has two different needs: 2. ◦ ◦ ◦ A socially mobile workforce Modern industrial society is based on constantly evolving science and technology so requires skilled technically competent workforce Essential that talented people are able to win promotion and take on the most important jobs Status is achieved  makes social mobility possible Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  11. 11. Parsons’ Functional Fit Theory • Two basic types of society – Modern industrial society – Traditional pre-industrial society • The nuclear family fits the needs of industrial society and is the dominant family type in that society; the extended family fits the needs of the pre-industrial society • Post industrial revolution (late 18th C onwards) extended  nuclear Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  12. 12. Parsons’ Functional Fit Theory • Parsons argues that the nuclear family is better equipped than the extended family to meet the needs of industrial society • The result of this is the mobile nuclear family which is structurally isolated from its extended kin without binding obligations towards them (unlike the pre-industrial extended family) Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  13. 13. Loss of Functions  The pre-industrial family was a multi-functional unit ◦ A unit of production (working together on the farm) ◦ A unit of consumption (feeding and clothing it’s members) ◦ Therefore more self-sufficient than the modern nuclear family.  Parsons argues that when society industrialises the family not only changes its structure but also loses some of its functions ◦ Family ceases to be a unit of production (move to factory work) ◦ Family becomes a unit of consumption only ◦ Loses most of its other functions to other institutions such as schools and the health service Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  14. 14. As a result: • The modern nuclear family comes to specialise in performing just two essential or ‘irreducible’ functions: – Primary socialisation – Stabilisation of adult personalities – providing a source of relaxation in order to return to the workplace feeling refreshed. Good workers = efficient economy. Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  15. 15. Evidence? Read the information sheet. Use the information to address the following questions. Write a couple of sentences in response to each one. 1)How dominant was the extended family in pre industrial society? 2)Did the industrial society give rise to the nuclear family? 3)Is the extended family not important in today’s modern society? Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  16. 16. Strengths and weaknesses of the Functionalist Perspective Use the sheet to fill in the gaps and reveal the strengths and weaknesses of the Functionalist Perspective of the Family. Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  17. 17. Charlotte Russell Bilton School
  18. 18. Functionalism: What? The Functionalist perspective argues that social institutions each have their own function in order to make society work. They liken society to a human body in which each organ has an important role to play in survival. So What? They believe that these social institutions (like organs) play a role in socialising it’s members on the norms and values. These norms and values are adopted by all members to ensure that society runs harmoniously. This is called value consensus. However? This approach has been criticised for being too optimistic. Society does not operate harmoniously all of the time. Inequality exists among individuals of different social class, gender and ethnicity. Such inequality causes conflict over consensus. Charlotte Russell Bilton School

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