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Functionalism and the family

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Information about Functionalism and the family
Education

Published on March 9, 2009

Author: markwjburke

Source: authorstream.com

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Slide 1: I love her And I love her THE FAMILY The family is a huge topic in sociology and perhaps this is a reflection of the role it plays within society. Throughout the world the family is seen as one of the most important social units, so much so the UN designated 1994 as the Year of the Family. Today we are going to explore the following questions: A lesbian couple are celebrating the first birthday of their quadruplets. Melanie Snee and Emma Miller have organised a family party for their three boys and one girl to mark the occasion. Markus, Lucas, Harrison and Lara were carried by Ms Miller, 30, after fertility treatment using a sperm donor. She gave birth to the foursome in just four minutes. Slide 2: How can we evaluate functionalism? Is the family a hard concept to define? Is the family universal? What are functionalist perspectives on the family? Has the family lost its functions? Slide 3: In analysing the family, functionalists concern themselves with two main areas: The functions that the family provides The functional relationship between the family and the other social systems – for example the economic system. Slide 4: Sociologists define the family in a variety of different ways it is therefore a much disputed concept. Below is a collection of definitions sociologists have come up with in order to define this important institution. The family is a social group characterised by common residence, economic co-operation and reproduction. It includes adults of both sexes, at least two of whom maintain a socially approved sexual relationship, and one or more children, own or adopted, of the sexually cohabiting adults. George Murdock What problems are there with this definition? Slide 5: A family is a unit made up of people related to each other by blood, birth or marriage. What problems are there with this definition? A family is a social unit made up of people who support each other in one of several ways; for example, socially, economically or psychologically (in providing care, love, affection etc) or whose members identify with each other as a supportive unit. What problems are there with this definition? Slide 6: In defining the family it brings us to the thorny question- IS THE FAMILY UNIVERSAL? Surely it is? Through a show of hands who agrees that the family is a universal unit Certainly the sociologist George Murdock thought so. Murdock (1949) studied 250 different societies around the world ranging from small hunter-gatherer societies to large capitalist ones and concluded that the family is universal and can be defined as a: Slide 7: ‘ Social group characterised by common residence, economic co-operation and reproduction. Contains adults of both sexes, at least two whom maintain a socially approved sexual relationship and one or more children, own or adopted, of the sexually cohabiting adults’ (Haralambos et al PG 319) It can be distilled down to The nuclear family is a universal human social grouping. It exists as a distinct and strongly functional group in every know society’ Slide 8: However Some other sociologists, such as Kathleen Gough has argued that is impossible to suggest that the family is a universally held concept. Cultures differ from society to society and therefore families will also differ. She used the Nayar tribe in Southern India as evidence. Girls were ritually married before puberty but did not have to live with husband or have any contact with him only obligation was to mourn his death. Once near puberty girls could take as many visiting husbands (Sandbanham) as she wished. The men were often away (warriors) so when they returned they would visit one of their wives after supper have sexual relations with her and then leave before breakfast Slide 9: Gough’s idea that this did not represent a family were based on the following premises It did not involve a lifelong union The husbands had no duty to wives It was not an economic unit Slide 10: Which point do you feel represents the modern family unit more? Come up with your own critically constructed theory detailing what the family now represents Slide 11: Lets have a brief look at other non-traditional functional ‘families’ THE ISRAELI KIBBUTZIM In the modern state of Israel there was an attempt to organize a kibbutz. Collective values were stressed rather than the ‘selfish’ ties of the family. Money and property were owned and controlled by the community as a whole. After a short time with their parents children were taken away and brought up by specially trained nurses and teachers. They were allowed to see their parents for only a few hours each day. Contrary to many expectations the children did not suffer psychologically as a result of this. Thus, the functions of the nuclear family may be replaced by other forms of organisation. Slide 12: The Punk squats of inner cities New traveller convoys YouTube - Stonehenge 1984 Slide 13: Gough concluded that family is not universal One solution to this argument suggested by Scanzoni ’89, is to call families primary relationships. This she argues would solve the universal argument. However this too is flawed as it does away with the whole notion of the family. Slide 14: In analysing the family, functionalists concern themselves with two main areas: The functions that the family provides The functional relationship between the family and the other social systems – for example the economic system. Murdock (1948) suggested that: Nuclear family is universal. Family plays four basic functions that helps society and its individual members The family does not carry these out exclusively but it does it most efficiently Draw and fill out the chart Slide 15: Talcott Parsons (1959) The family provides two basic functions that no other institution can provide Primary Socialisation – teaches children the basic norms and values of society. The child internalises societies culture and this ensure value consensus is maintained Stabilisation of adult personalities – family provides stability and emotional security, a safe haven away from the stresses of everyday life. Family works like a warm bath easing away the worries of the world. Slide 16: Therefore we have to question HAS THE FAMILY LOST ITS FUNCTIONS? As society has become more and more advanced some sociologists, especially functionalists have begun to suggest that the family is beginning to lose some of the important functions that it once provided. However instead in true functionalist light rather than claiming that this is causing the family to disappear, they argue that it has caused it to become more specialised. Slide 17: What functions have the family lost? Copy and complete Slide 18: Therefore functionalist perspectives on the family would acknowledge that Statistics show that the nuclear family is one of the most popular families in our society They stress how well this type of family fits into modern society. Very conservative theory, takes for granted that the nuclear family is normal and universal. What about family diversity? The nuclear family is NOT universal Ignores conflict within the family. Is the family such a nice place for some people? What about the dark side of the family? Assumes that ALL families’ useful and essential functions, married couples are pictured as living in domestic bliss, being good in bed and effective socialisers of the next generation! Slide 19: Parsons (1959) – on many levels the family is now in fact functionless. It no longer engages in economic production, it has no political power and it is not vital to integrate wider society. Other institutions such as schools, business, welfare organisations etc. have now taken over. This is a positive thing for the family as it has allowed the family to focus on the two functions that it does best. Slide 20: The loss of function question can be counterbalanced by a re assessment of the role of outside agencies the now dovetail into the family unit- smaller more holistic and inclusive schools for example Slide 21: Arguments against the loss of functions Ronald Fletcher (1966) –inst he is also a functionalist but he argues that the family has not only retained its functions but those functions have increase in size and importance. Specialised institutions have only added to and improved the family’s functions, not superseded them. How can Fletcher’s argument be applied to the following institutions: Copy and complete Slide 22: Research task WIKI Research # George Murdock Talcott Parsons

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