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  • 3 Sep 2011
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  • SociologyExchange.co.uk Shared Resource

    1. 1. Functionalism Functionalist views of the family SRO 2011
    2. 2. Learning Objectives <ul><li>To understand the view that functionalists have of the family </li></ul><ul><li>To evaluate the view of functionalists </li></ul>Important Sociologists: George Peter Murdock Talcott Parsons Key terms/concepts: Functionalism Nuclear family Socialisation Extended family Pre-industrial society Industrial society SRO 2011
    3. 3. Starter <ul><li>Mini-whiteboards: </li></ul><ul><li>As I read out a part of the human body you need to write on the mini-whiteboard the function that the organ carries out </li></ul><ul><li>What function does the family have for society? </li></ul>SRO 2011
    4. 4. How do Functionalists view the family? <ul><li>Just like an organ in the human body, functionalists believe that the family enables society to function. </li></ul><ul><li>Society, according to functionalists, is made up of sub-systems that depend on each other and help society to work. The family is the basic building block of society which helps to maintain social order and social cohesion. </li></ul>SRO 2011
    5. 5. George Peter Murdock (1949) <ul><li>The family performs four essential functions to meet the needs of society and its members: </li></ul><ul><li>Stable satisfaction of the sex drive </li></ul><ul><li>Reproduction of the next generation </li></ul><ul><li>Socialisation of the young </li></ul><ul><li>Meeting its members’ economic needs </li></ul><ul><li>Murdock recognises that other institutions could perform these functions but argues that the nuclear family is universal (in the 250 societies he studied) because of its ‘sheer practicality’ in performing the four essential functions. </li></ul>SRO 2011
    6. 6. Criticisms of Murdock <ul><li>Other institutions and family types can carry out the functions </li></ul><ul><li>Murdock has a ‘rose tinted’ harmonious consensus view </li></ul><ul><li>Feminists: the family serves the need of men and oppresses women </li></ul><ul><li>Marxists: the family meets the needs of capitalism, not the needs to family members and society as a whole </li></ul>SRO 2011
    7. 7. Talcott Parsons (1955) <ul><li>The family can perform many functions. The functions that it performs will depend on the needs of society. This is known as the ‘functional fit’ theory </li></ul><ul><li>Pre-industrial society = extended family </li></ul><ul><li>Industrial society = nuclear family </li></ul><ul><li>As society changed, the ‘type’ of family that was required to help society function changed. Industrial society has two essential needs which requires a nuclear family to work: </li></ul><ul><li>A geographically mobile workforce </li></ul><ul><li>A socially mobile workforce </li></ul>SRO 2011
    8. 8. Loss of functions <ul><li>Parsons also argues that the family in modern society has lost many of its functions as it has become a unit of consumption only (rather than also being a unit of production) </li></ul><ul><li>This means that in modern society the nuclear family has just two essential or ‘irreducible’ functions: </li></ul><ul><li>Primary socialisation of children </li></ul><ul><li>Stabilisation of adult personalities </li></ul>SRO 2011
    9. 9. Criticisms of Parsons <ul><li>Other sociologists and historians have produced evidence that contradicts Parsons’ claim of the ‘functional’ fit between the extended family in pre-industrial society and the nuclear family in industrial society. </li></ul><ul><li>Young and Willmott (1973) & Laslett (1972): the pre-industrial family was nuclear, not extended </li></ul><ul><li>Young and Willmott: hardship of the early industrial period gave rise to a ‘mum-centred’ working-class extended family </li></ul><ul><li>Hareven (1999): extended family not the nuclear was the structure best equipped to meet the needs of early industrial society </li></ul><ul><li>There is some support for the claim that the nuclear family has become dominant but the extended family has not disappeared </li></ul>SRO 2011
    10. 10. For the ‘A’ grade <ul><li>Pages 59-60 (Newbold blue textbook) </li></ul><ul><li>How does Murdock define the family? </li></ul><ul><li>What roles do functionalists argue that the man and woman should take in the family? Why do you think this is the case? How do the roles relate to Murdock's four functions of the family? </li></ul>SRO 2011

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