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  • 1. Marxism Marxist views of the family SRO 2011
  • 2. Learning Objectives
    • To understand the view that Marxists have of the family
    • To evaluate the view of Marxists
    Important Sociologists: Karl Marx Friedrich Engels Eli Zaretsky Key terms/concepts: Marxism Capitalism Consumption Ideological function SRO 2011
  • 3. Starter Name that brand : SRO 2011
  • 4. How do Marxists view the family?
    • Marxists see all society’s institutions as helping to maintain class inequality and capitalism.
    • For Marxists, the functions of the family are performed purely for the benefit of the capitalist system. It does not therefore, benefit society as a whole or individual members of the family.
    SRO 2011
  • 5. What is capitalism?
    • Capitalism, also known as Marxism, is a perspective based on the ideas of Karl Marx (1818-83). It sees society as divided into two opposed classes:
    • Capitalist class, who own means of production
    • Working class, whose labour the capitalists exploit for profit
    • In a capitalist society, goods and businesses are owned privately for the purpose of profit.
    SRO 2011
  • 6. Marxist functions
    • Marxists have identified three functions that they see the family as fulfilling for capitalism:
    • Inheritance of property
    • Ideological functions
    • Unit of consumption
    SRO 2011
  • 7. Inheritance of property
    • As capitalist societies began to emerge, so came the development of private property and a class of men who secured control of the means of production. This brought about the patriarchal monogamous nuclear family.
    • According to Friedrich Engels, monogamy became essential because of the inheritance of private property (men had to be certain of the paternity of their children). This however has led to a ‘world historical defeat of the female sex’, where women have been turned into ‘a mere instrument for the production of children
    SRO 2011
  • 8. Ideological functions
    • Ideology for Marxists = a set of ideas or beliefs that justify inequality and maintain the capitalist system by persuading people to accept it as fair, natural or unchangeable
    • The family socialises children into the idea that hierarchy and inequality are inevitable. Parental power over children accustoms them to the idea that someone is always in charge and prepares them for work
    • Eli Zaretsky (1976): family also provides a haven from the harsh world of capitalism, although it is an illusion and is based upon the domestic servitude of women
    SRO 2011
  • 9. Unit of consumption
    • The family plays a major role in generating profits since it is an important market for the sale of consumer goods:
    • Advertisers urge families to ‘keep up with the Jonses’ by consuming all the latest products
    • The media target children, who use ‘pester power’ to persuade parents to spend more
    • Children who lack the latest clothes or ‘must have’ gadgets are mocked and stigmatised by their peers
    SRO 2011
  • 10. Criticisms of Marxism
    • Marxists assume that the nuclear family is dominant and ignores the wide and increasing variety of family structures in society today
    • Feminists: Marxist emphasis on capitalism and social class underestimates the importance of gender inequalities.
    • Functionalists: Marxists ignore the very real benefits that the family provides for its members, such as intimacy and mutual support.
    SRO 2011
  • 11. For the ‘A’ grade
    • Pages 41-42 (Rob Webb textbook)
    • How does Marx describe the mode of production evolving?
    • How does Marx suggest women can be liberated?
    SRO 2011

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