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Using Information From Item A And Else Where, Assess The View That ‘The Nuclear Family Functions To Benefit All Its Members And Society As A Whole.’

971 words - 4 pages

Using information from item A and else where, assess the view that ‘the nuclear family functions to benefit all its members and society as a whole.’ (24 marks)

According to Item A the nuclear family is the “ideal family type.” According to Murdock the nuclear family consists of a heterosexual couple that have at least one child. Murdock is a functionalist. Functionalists argue society is based on consensus (agreed norms and values). Consensus is achieved in society through the process of socialisation, which involves individuals learning norms and values. Norms and values are transmitted to children through social institutions such as the nuclear family. This benefits all members of ...view middle of the document...

While the functionalist Murdock sees society as based on value consensus, Marxist sociologists see capitalist society as based on an unequal conflict between two social classes (Bourgeoisie and Proletariat). Marxists see the functions of the family, put forward by Murdock, as something that only benefits the capitalist system. Where Murdock saw education as a way of socializing individuals, Marx sees this same socialisation a way of promoting ideologies taught by the family to maintain a false class-consciousness. Therefore the nuclear family does not benefit all its members or society as a whole, it in fact prevents a working class revolution by promoting capitalist ideology.

In contrast, the functionalists Parsons disagree with Marx and claims that primary socialisation is a thing as it promotes social solidarity. As opposed to Murdock, Parsons believed the family existed to carry out only two “irreducible functions” as these would fit the particular needs of a society. The first function is primary socialisation. In a modern day society the nuclear family helps children learn shared norms and values, which gives them a strong sense of belonging to a society (social solidarity). Secondly the nuclear family helps to ‘stabalise adult personalities’. This helped to relieve the stress of modern day living. This benefits society as it stops people from feeling disillusioned and they can continue working (contributing to society). Parsons took this idea further by differentiating between the expressive role (nurturing and caring) and instrumental role (breadwinner, disciplinarian and decision maker) within the family. Women would typically take an expressive role to help the father (who takes the instrumental role) to cope with the stress after a hard day at work. Feminists reject the functionalist view that women are biologically suited to perform the expressive role. In particular radical feminists “argue that the family serves only to exploit and oppress women.” Only men not society as a whole benefit from women carrying...

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