One of the major topics you will have to study within this SCLY1Families & Households Module is ‘Theories on the Family’.This basically means that different theories exist that try to explain thefunction / purpose/ role of the family within society. The theories thatyou will need to know are as follows:> FUNCTIONALISM (Consensus Structuralism)> MARXISM (Conflict Structuralism)> FEMINISM (Conflict Structuralism)Learning Objectives:When you have studied this topic, you should:> Understand the Functionalist, Marxist & Feminist perspectives on thefamily> Be able to analyse the similarities & differences between theseperspectives> Be able to evaluate & critically assess the usefulness of theseperspectives in the family
Murdock (1949): The 4 Functions of the Family1) Teaching Sexuality & Gender Roles2) Reproduction3) Primary Socialisation REMEMBER: Functionalists argue4) Economic Security that the Nuclear Family is best suited to meet these Functional pre-Requisites of Society
Families teach people how to express sexuality in a sociallyapproved context i.e. It teaches that heterosexuality is thenorm and that other types of relationships are ‘abnormal’ e.g.adultery, homosexuality, incest. The family ensures reproduction and provides a stable environment to rear children.
The family provides Primary Socialisation – it is through thisthat they are ‘groomed’ into society’s Value Consensus &Collective Conscience. The family provides food and shelter and other material needs for the family.
> Very ‘Rosy’ picture of the family > Old-Fashioned > Ignore suppressive and destructive sides to the family (i.e. they ignore dysfunction):Leach & Cooper (1967):The Nuclear family has become so isolated and ‘inward looking’ that it is actually avery destructive institution which suppresses individuality and teaches blindobedience: ‘Far from being the basis of a good society, the family, with it’s narrow privacy & tawdry secrets is the source of all our discontents’> Ignores Family Diversity & the fact other forms of family can carry out all of thefunctions that Murdock & Parsons argue are only suited to the Nuclear Family i.e.it is not necessarily universal (SEE HANDOUT).