The Nuclear Family Essay

1209 words - 5 pages

We all have our own views on what we believe to be family, whether it be the traditional mother, father and children form or the contrasting; two parents of the same sex and adopted children, we all probably would agree that a family consists of people that love each other and adults that rear and prepare children ready for adult life within society. As members of society we have our own individual views as to what constitutes as family, so do sociologists.
In this report I will assess the functionalist's sociological theories of the family and introduce other perspectives on the family and show how they differ from the Functionalist perspective, I will concentrate on the ...view middle of the document...

Talcott Parson's theories support Murdock's heavy focus on nuclear, heterosexual families and excludes other family forms. Parson believes that the nuclear families roles are allocated between husbands and wives in accordance with the assumed instrumental characteristics of males and the assumed expressive characteristics of females, making men more suitable for work outside the home and women more suitable for fulfilling household tasks.

Critics such as Postmodernism believe these theories have become dated and are seen as out of touch with the diversity of family life in multi-cultural societies. Feminist would say that this theory focuses solely on the nuclear family suggesting other forms of family are not approved of, therefore rejecting family diversity.
Feminist Perspective
Marxist-Feminist views support family diversity and are critical of the nuclear family. They believe that children are socialised just as well in single parent household as they would be in a nuclear family. Barrett and McIntosh (1991) suggest that the nuclear family is an idealogical instrument, this suggests that the typical nuclear family is presented as an ideal for all of us to aspire to, this makes the concept of the family 'anti-social' . Radical-Feminists argue that the functionalist view of gender differences in socialisation work to the disadvantage of females and that the traditional allocation of roles within the family reflects the existence of patriarchal power, suggesting that important family decisions are decided by the male rather then the female. They also suggest there is nothing "expressive" about household tasks and when women do seek employment outside of the home, they are forced to still fulfil household tasks, as well as employment, childcare and emotional support for the family. They believe that the existence of "empty shell marriages", high rates of divorce and considerable levels of domestic violence show that family relationships are often far less harmonious than is suggested by the functionalist theory.
Marxist Perspective
The Marxist view of the family is not dissimilar to that of the feminist as they also believe it is stressed on the patriarchal structure of families. The Marxism suggest males are the dominant of the whole family. They see the family as part of the subculture to the capitalist society and the Bourgeoisie, which they believe does not operate in the interest of all of the members of society but in the interest of the capitalist class. Therefore they are critical of the Functionalist theories as unlike functionalists who see the family as a harmonious institution, they see the family as a place of conflict, with dissimilar relations of power between its members. Zaretsky (1976)...

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