The Functionalist View of the Family

The Functionalist View of the Family

The Functionalist View of the Family.

Functionalists believed in a theory that the family is a positive institution. They hold the view that meets well with the needs of an advanced industrial society for a geographically and socially mobile workforce. Functionalists highlight the ideal family type in a modern society, as the nuclear family. The view of thenuclear family comprises of a breadwinner husband and dependant wife and children. US sociologists in particular have developed this approach, in particular Murdock, Parsons and Goode.

Critics have accused the functionalist view of the family as ideological in tone and representing a conservative stance. Some feminists’ highlight the ‘family ideology’ presents an image and ideal of family life that does not represent real experience, particularly that of women, whom feminists see as oppressed by the family. However, they defend the claim that the functionalist view of family life is shared by many people, if not only as an aspiration. The nuclear family is seen as traditional and positive.

Of all the sociological views of the family, the functionalist approach presents the most positive view of them all. The functionalist theory compares the family to a biological

Early Evolutionary functionalists', such as Emile Durkheim (1893), described pre-industrial societies as simple in their form and how once industrialisation has taken place, this simple form of society has developed into a more complex form of society. These sociologists believed in a slow gradual change in society and that societies’ institutions such as the family, also evolve.

Not a sociological view but a political view of the functionalist family came from the New Right. This originated form the USA but Charles Murray visited the UK in 1980s and brought the idea over here. He identified a class of people who were unable to work or chose not to work as the ‘underclass’. Basically these people were people who were relying on state...

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