Theories of the family (Feminists Perspective on the family (Feminists…
Theories of the family
The functionalist perspective on the family
Functionalists believe that society is based on a value consensus - a set of shared norms and values - into which society socialises its members. this enables them to cooperate harmoniously to meet society's needs and achieve shared goals. George peter Murduck says the family performs four essential functions. Stable satisfaction of the sex drive Reproduction of the next generation. Meeting its members economic needs.
Parsons functional fit theory -
Apart from the functions identified by Murdock, the family may meet other needs too. Talcott Parsons says the functional that the family performs will depend on the kind of society in which it is found. Parsons distinguishes between two kinds of the family structure: The nuclear family - of just parents and their dependent children. The extended family - of three generations living under one roof.
1 A geographically mobile workforce -
in traditional pre-industrial society people often spent their whole lives living in the same village, working on the same farm. By contrast, in modern society, industries constantly spring up and decline in different parts of the country, even different parts of the world, and this requires people to move to where the jobs are. Parsons says this is easier with the nuclear family.
2 A socially mobile workforce -
Modern industrial society is based on constant evolving science and technology and so it requires a skilled, technically competent workforce. it is therefore essential that talented people are able to win promotion and take on the most important jobs, even if they come from very humble backgrounds. In modern society an individual status is achieved by their own efforts and ability, not ascribed by their social and family background, and this makes social mobility possible.
Loss of functions -
The pre-industrial family was a multi-functional unit. it was a more self-sufficient unit that the modern nuclear family, providing for its members health and welfare and meeting most individual needs. In Parsons view, as a result of this loss of functions, the modern nuclear family comes to specialise in performing just two essential or irreducible functions:
The primary socialisation of children and The stabilisation of adult personalities.
The Marxist perspective on the family
Marxist sociologists see capitalist society as based on an unequal conflict between two social classes, the capitalist class-who own the means of production. the working class-whose labour the capitalists exploit for profit.
1 Inheritance of property -
Marxists ague that the key factor determining the shape of all social institutions, including the family, is the mode of production - that is, who owns and controls society's productive forces. in modern society, it is the capitalist class that owns and controls these means of production. as the mode of production evolves, so does the family.
Private property -
Monogamy became essential because of the inheritance of private property. men had to be certain of the paternity of their children in order to ensure that their legitimate heirs inherited from them.
2 Ideological functions -
Maxists argue that the family today also performs key ideological functions for capitalism. by ideology, Marxists mean 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 because adults are often in charge so getting them use to the working life.
3 A unit of consumption -
Capitalism exploits the labour of the workers, making a profit by selling the products of their labour for more then it pays them t produce these commodities. The family therefor plays a massive role in generating profit for capitalists, since it is an important market for the sale of consumer goods,
Feminists Perspective on the family
Feminists take a critical view of the family. they argue that it oppresses women - they have focused on issues such s the unequal division of domestic labour and domestic violence against women. they do not regard gender inequality as natural or inevitable, but as something created by society.
1 Liberal feminism -
Liberal feminists are concerned with campaigning against sex discrimination and for equal rights and opportunities for women. the ague that women's oppression is gradually overcome through changing peoples attitudes and thoughts changes laws. They believe we are moving towards greater equality, but that full equality will depend on further reforms and changes int he attitudes and socialisation patterns of both sexes.
2 Marxist feminism -
Argue that the main cause of women's oppression in the family is not men, but capitalism. women's oppression performs several functions for capitalism: Women reproduce the labour force, women absorb anger and women are a reserve army of cheap labour.
3 Radical feminism -
Radical feminists argue that all societies have been founded on patriarchy - rule by men. for radical feminists, the key division in society is between men and women: men are the enemy, The family and marriage is the key institutions in patriarchal society. men benefit from women's unpaid domestic work and from their sexual services.
4 Difference feminism -
The feminism approaches we hav considered so far all tend to assume that most omen live in conventional nuclear families and that they share a similar experience of the family life. However difference feminists argue that we cannot generalise about women's experience. they argue that lesbian and heterosexual women, white and black, working and middle class women all have different experiences of the family from one another.
The personal life perspective on families
The personal life perspective argue that they all suffer from two weaknesses: 1 They tend to assume that the traditional nuclear family is the dominant type. 2 They are all structural theories, that assume that families and their members are simply passive puppets manipulated by the structure of society to perform certain functions.
The sociology of personal life -
The sociology of personal life is a new perspective on families. it is strongly influenced by interaction ideas and argues that to understand families.
Beyond ties of blood and marriage -
they also takes a wider view of relationships than just traditional family relationships based on blood or marriage ties. they include: Relationships with friends, Fictive kin (close friends who are treated as relatives), Gay and lesbian chosen families, Relationships with dead relatives and relationships with pets.
Donor-conceived children -
In their research, Nordqvist and smart found that the issue of blood and genes raised a range of feelings. some parents emphasised the importance of social relationships over genetic ones in forming family bonds.