SOCIOLOGICALPERSPECTIVES ON THEFAMILYAS Sociology
Aims To review and re-cap Functionalist and Marxist ideas To introduce feminist perspectives. To examine the key themes in feminist research.
By the end of this lesson… Confidently describe the three key perspectives on the family
Functionalism re-capEmphasises harmony and integrationbetween different parts of society – all thedifferent parts of society working togetherhelp to maintain society.Family is a vital organmaintaining the body ofsociety.
Murdock 1949Sexual – expressingsexuality in a sociallyapproved context – note thatthis also implies socialdisapproval – homosexuality,adultery, incest etc. Reproduction – stability for producing and rearing children
Murdock Socialisation – important unit of primary socialisation, where children learn socially acceptable forms of behaviour and the culture of their society. This helps to build a stable society through value consensus.Economic – the family provides foodand shelter Murdock – these functions are necessary in any society and that the nuclear family exists in every society to carry out these
Functionalism…Parsons 1951Parsons – Looked at family life in the 1950sTwo basic functions of the familyPrimary socialisation – society would cease to exist if thenew generation was not socialised into the norms andvalues of society.People are moulded to act in certain ways almost withoutthinking about it – families are factories producing humanpersonalities and only the family can provide the securityand emotional warmth to achieve this. The stabilization of human personalities Expressive and instrumental roles – contributes to the stabilization of personalities.
Traditional Marxism Marxists see the family within the context of a capitalist society – a society based on private property and driven by profit. The society is based on conflict between the interests of the classes. The family exists to teach the members of society to submit to the capitalist class.Engels – the nuclear family developed as a means topass on private property to heirs. Women’s position inthe family was not much different from a prostitute- sheexchanged sex and heirs in return for economic security.
Traditional Marxism Althusser 1971 In order for capitalism to survive – the working class must submit to the ruling class. The family is a key method for passing on the ideology of the ruling class – the ruling class tries to maintain false consciousness in this way.
Criticisms of MarxismOld fashioned – people marryfor different reasons ratherthan to pass on inheritedwealth and property. Peopleare now more likely to marryfor love rather than social Many women have financialresponsibility independence and are now less likely to marry for financial security. There is a growing emphasis on the emotional aspects of the relationship and personal fulfilment.
Marxist FeminismThe nuclear family benefits capitalist society by providing free domestic labour.In this way capitalism exploits women – Margaret Benston (1972) - the nuclearfamily was important to capitalism because it rears the future workforce withlittle or no cost to the capitalist state.
Marxist Feminism Women’s domestic labour and sexual services help to maintain the present workforce’s physical and emotional fitness
Marxist FeminismMothers and housewivesare also a cheap reserveworkforce that can be hiredcheaply as part-timeworkers in times ofeconomic expansion and letgo in times of recession.
Marxist Feminism The capitalist system exploits women’s domestic labour as by hiring women cleaners the wealthy of BOTH sexes are freed to pursue careers outside the home.
Marxist FeminismThe family is useful to capitalismas it can act as a distractionfrom unrest in the workplace.But…also men may make up fortheir lack of power in theworkplace and choose to exhortpower in the home havingnegative consequences forwomen …domestic violence.
Radical Feminism Key effect of industrialisation was that women were excluded from paid work and their roles were redefined as mothers and housewives who were dependent on the family wage earned by the male breadwinner.
Radical Feminism Men dominated paid work and as a consequence of this held both political and cultural power. Women were confined to the family where they were dominated and repressed by men. Radical feminists believe that the modern family meets the needs of men rather than all members of society. They see patriarchy as the main obstacle to women’s freedom.
Tasks…30 minutes andcounting! Research and summarise the main themes which can be seen in feminist writings on the family. The social reproduction of labour power Social control of the working class The family as a place of work The symmetrical family What are the key criticisms of the feminist perspectives?
Who says what…?Sort the statement cards into their correctgroups and give each group the appropriateheading.Which perspective on the family do you believeto have the strongest argument….why?
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