Theories of the family

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Mind Map on Theories of the family, created by stu-291034 on 02/02/2015.

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Theories of the family
1 Funtionalist theories
1.1 Murdock
1.1.1 Murdock argues that the family is a universal institution that has four functions; 1. Education A man and women are needed to perform primary socialisation 4. Economic Breadwinner (husband) Housewife (wife) - if there is no breadwinner or housewife theyre not doing proper roles. if they both work there is no one to look after the kids 2. sexual socially approved - marriage 3. Reproductive man and women- needed to have children
1.1.2 -Other sociologists have criticised his functionalist theories. Marxists and feminists reject his 'rose-tinted' consensus view. they argue that functionalism neglects conflict and exploitation of women.
1.2 Parsons
1.2.1 Parsons believes that every family in every society has two basic functions 1. Primary socialisation of children Through early childhood the childs personality is shaped and moulded to absorb norms and values. no other institution provides warmth, security and mutual support necessary for primary socialisation Can be criticised for beign too deterministic, with children being pumped full of culture and their personalities being moulded by adults. He ignores the possibility of socialisation beig a two-way process in which roles are negotiated or that attempts at socialisation can be resisted by children. 2. Stabilisation of adult personalities Emphasising marital relationships, and the emotional security the couple provide for each other. It balances out the stress and strains of everyday life. Also, it allows adults to act out the childish parts of their personalities The Marxist Zaretsky argues that the family only provides this emotional support in order to encourage its members to continue to work every day under the harsh realities of capitaism. The family is therefore a servant of the capitalist state which looks after the needs of exploited workers at no cost to the employers.
1.3 OVERALL EVALUATION; Functionalist views on the nuclear family tend to be based on middle class and American versions. They consequently neglect other influences such as ethnicity, social class or religion. Feminists argue that they ignore the 'dark side' of family life (conflict between husband and wife, male dominance, child abuse etc). they give little attention to the dysfunctions of the family - how it may affect wider society.
2 consensus/positive views of the family
2.1 Functionalist theories: the family performs positive functions for individuals and society
2.2 New Right theories; the family is the cornerstone of society, but it is under threat
3 Conflict/critical views of the family
3.1 Marxist theories: the family provides important functions for capitalism
3.2 Feminist theories: the family reinforces gender inequality and patriarchy
4 Marxist theories
4.1 Engels
4.1.1 Engels argued that the need for family arose when societies started to value private property. An organised system of inheritance became necessary - fathers needed to know who their offspring were in order to pass their property down the family line. With this, Engels argues came the need for monogamy (one man married to one woman) - this created the family. Therefore, the family serves the interests of the economy. Modern research has suggested that Engels interpretation of the development of the family are historically inaccurate (monogamous marriage and the nuclear family are often found in hunter-gatherer groups). Functionalists would reject Engels view of the development of the family, rather than being developed for the prupose of passing down wealth, the family plays an important part in socialising the young and stabilising adult personalities.
4.2 Zaretsky
4.2.1 Zaretsky suggests that the family serves capitalism by offering emotional security from the oppressive world of work. However, in reality, it only provides emotional warmth to encourage it members to continue working under capitalism everyday. The liberal feminist Jennifer Somerville argues that Zaretsky exaggerates the importance of the family as a refuge from life in capitalist society. She suggests that he underestimates the extent of cruelty, violence and incest within families. she also argues that Zaretsky ignores the fact that during the early stages of capitalism most working class women had to take paid work in order for the family to survive, few stayed home as housewives.
4.3 Althusser and Poulantzas
4.3.1 The family can be seen as serving the functions of an ideological state apparatus by socialising both pro-capitalist ideology and its own familiar ideology in order to maintain such family patterns over time. Feminists argue that this theory ignores the fact that such a family ideology supports patriarchy since it suggests that men and women should have different roles in the family and society. Functionalists reject the view that the family socialises children into capitalist ideology. Instead, the family enables children to internalise the culture of society to enable them to become effective functioning adults.
4.4 OVERALL EVALUATION; Marxist views of the family follow logically from Marxist theory. Feminists argue that the Marxist emphasis on social class and capitalism underestimates the importance of gender inequalities within the family. By contrast, functionalists argue that Marxists ignore the real benefits that the family provides for its members. From an interpretivist point of view, Marxists tend to neglect the meanings families have for individuals and how family members interpret family relationships.
5 New Right
5.1 Murray
5.2 Marsland
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