Using material from Item 2B and elsewhere assess the contribution of functionalist sociologists to our understanding of the family (24marks)
I don't think this would be enough but i genuinely don't know what else to write, any help please ?
Functionalists have a very positive view on the family; some even compare society and its institutions to the human body, using the family as the heart. This essay will be assessing the functionalist views of the family, for example Talcott Parsons theories and Murdock’s.
Murdock was one of the main functionalist thinkers; he looked at many different societies and believed that the family was the most important institution in all of the societies. He argued that the family has four vital roles; sexual regulation, reproduction, economic and educational. Like mentioned in item 2B Murdock believed these roles to be essential to the smooth running of society.
Talcott Parsons was another functionalist thinker; however unlike Murdock he focused more on American families and rather than insisting the family has four vital functions he argued it had only two main functions. These are Primary socialisation and the stabilisation of the adult personality. However Marxists would argue that primary socialisation reproduces social inequalities and maintains class inequalities.
Another theory of Parsons is the ‘warm bath theory’; this is the idea that the family can be seen as a warm bath that soaks away the cares and stresses of everyday life. Although feminists would criticise this theory as being too optimistic and ignoring the dark side of the family, for example domestic violence and child abuse.
Parsons also stated that the nuclear family is the best family for the modern ages as it is more functional; for example it is more geographically mobile that the extended family that in the past was more common. However Marxists are critical of this view as they believe that the nuclear family only serves the needs of the ruling classes.
The biological division of labour in the family is another of Parsons theories. He said that men have an instrumental role, working and being the bread winner, whereas women have an expressive role, homemaking and emotional support. Parsons sees these roles as natural whereas feminists see families as patriarchal and Marxist feminist Fran Ansley even said that in marriage women are the ‘takers of ****’.
Overall the functionalist view of the family is an extremely positive one; one that could even be criticized as too positive and naive to everyday problems of the family, one that places too much emphasis on the nuclear family only to be critical of the other family types and one that only looks at the good contributions of the family to society rather than the good and bad.