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Role of family 1

AS Sociology Families

Household Definition A group of people who live together who may or may not have family or kinship ties e.g. students sharing a house
5 main types of family Nuclear; Traditional extended family; Attenuated extended family; Lone-parent families; Reconstituted families.
Nuclear Family Two generations living together (parents and dependent children)
Traditional extended family 3 or more generations of the same family living together or close by, with frequent contact between grandparents, aunts, cousins etc
Attenuated extended family Nuclear families that live apart from their extended family, but keep in regular contact e.g. by phone or email
Lone-parent families A single parent and their dependent children
Reconstituted families New stepfamilies created when parts of 2 previous families are brought together. e.g. 2 new partners who bring children from former partners together to create a new family group.
Functionalist view of family Equally useful and beneficial to individuals and society. Murdock concluded it is so useful that it is INEVITABLE and UNIVERSAL.
Murdock argued family performed 4 basic functions Sexual, Reproductive, Economic and Educational
Murdock Sexual function of family provides a stable sexual relationship for adults and controls sexual relationships of members
Murdock Reproductive function of family Provides babies- new members of society
Murdock Economic function of family family pools resources and provides for all its members, adult and children
Murdock Educational function of family Family teaches children norms and values of society, which keeps societies values going.
Talcott Parsons- 2 basic and vital functions Primary socialisation of children and stabilisation of adult personalities.
Primary Socialisation is... the process by which children learn and accept the values and norms of society. Parsons described families as "factories" producing the next citizens.
How does the family stabilise adult personalities? Through the emotional relationship between the parents. The emotional relationship gives the support and security needed to cope in the wider world. It is a sanctuary from the stress of everyday life.
Main criticism of functionalist perspective on family life. Idealises the family, focusing only on the good parts. Makes no reference to disharmony and problems, such as violence, in family relationships or of alternative households.
Feminist criticism of Functionalist perspective on family Ignores exploitation of women.
Marxist view of family. Like functionalists view family as performing essential functions for modern industrial society. BUT argue that it benefits the minority in power (Bourgeoisie) and economy but disadvantages working class majority (Proletariat). i.e useful Capitalist tool.
Marxist view - Engels (1884) family had an economic function of keeping wealth within the Bourgeoisie by passing it on to the next generation through inheritance.
Marxist view of a "housewife"role in a Capitalist society Means workers in the family are cared for and healthy which makes them more PRODUCTIVE. This is a benefit to the employers (capitalist class) which they get for free.
Marxist view- The family as a unit of consumption. The family household is a unit with a desire to buy goods produced by the capitalist society.e.g. washing machines. The family buys the goods for more than they cost to produce and the Bourgeoisie get the profit.
Marxist view - Zaretsky (1976) of how the family helps the Capitalist society Family is the one place in society where the proletariat has power and control. The working man at home is "King of his castle" which relives some of the frustration workers feel about their low status and helps them accept OPPRESSION and exploitation.
Criticisms of Marxist view of family 1. View is focused entirely on benefits to the economy and the employer class. It ignores other benefits to the individual or society.
Criticisms of Marxist view of family 2. Traditional Marxist sociology assumes the worker is male and the women are the housewives
Criticisms of Marxist view of family 3. No Marxist explanation for why the family flourishes as an institution in non-capitalist or communist societies and there is little Marxist research on alternatives to the family.



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