Assess the contribution of functionalism to our understanding of families and households
Functionalist theory’s contributed massively to our understanding of the family and the household. Functionalists ask: what are the essential functions which the family must perform to meet the basic needs of society and its members. But functionalist views have also been criticised.
Functionalists argue that the family has essential functions which it must perform to meet the basic needs of society and its members. Murdock argues that this makes the family a greatly important institution. In performing these functions the family links up with other institutions, providing things like the next workforce. Murdock argues that the family performs four basic functions which are: Stable satisfaction of the sex drive- which would prevent social disturbance e.g. rape, Reproduction of the next generation- without this then society wouldn’t continue, socialisation of the young- teaching societies norms and values, meeting its members economic needs- providing necessities such as food and shelter.
A criticism of Murdock’s theory is that other institutions can for fill some of the functions that the family performs for example the education system or the media. Marxist and feminist have also opposed his claims saying that functionalists don’t take conflict or exploitation into consideration. Feminists say that the family teach the needs of men and oppressing women so they believe that the functions the family perform all contribute to male dominance and ruling over women. Marxist says that this meets the needs of capitalism but not the family members or society all together. They suggest that the functions that the family perform all help capitalism for example the function of the next generation Marxist see it as reproducing the next generation of workers.
Another functional theory is Parson’s functional fit theory. Parson believes that as well as the four functions that...