This is an example essay on Family:
Functionalism is a theory based on agreement and consensus where all social systems such as Education, Law and family work together to create an ordered and harmonious society. Functionalists concentrate on the positive views of different social systems and how they work together to emphasize consensus in our society.
In this essay I will explain three four major functionalist explanations and how they contribute to the understanding of a family. I will concentrate the three major theories of Parsons, Ronald Fletcher, Goode and Murdock.
For Parsons the functions of a modern family have been cut down in number over time. Instead pf providing economic and maintenance needs, a family can also provide emotional and relative support. Parsons introduced two major functions which are: the socialization of children and the stabilization of the adult personality. The primary socialization of children concerns the way in which children are brought up by their parents teaching them how to ‘fit’ into society and to recognize between right and wrong. The stabilization of adult personality refers to the notion of the family living in a society with consensus. Parsons’ theory states that a nuclear family provides social stability for it members in chaotic or pressurized situations. This particularly applies to the male breadwinner who provides for his wife and children. This can be identified as the ‘natural’ division of labour. Parsons also introduced the ‘warm bath’ theory where the husband arrives home from a stressful day and sinks into a warm bath that his family provides. For example, when small children greet their father at the door after a hectic day at work, it puts everything into perspective for the father and makes his life seem worthwhile. Parsons also said that in cases where the male breadwinner has to move long distances to advance his career his family would move with him. In conclusion of Parsons’ theories, the family has evolved into a small social unit that provides its members with comfort and security. He believes in the family working together to make everyone in the family ordered and harmonious. I agree with Parsons to an extent where the family must work together and provide support and needs for the other members. However I disagree with the stereotypical role of a husband and wife and the ‘natural’ division of labour, where the male goes out and provides the family economically and the female plays and emotional and supportive role. I think that in a modern family the women work just as hard as the men and can provide even economically as well as emotionally.
In opposition to Parsons, Ronald Fletcher, a British sociologist offered a functionalist analysis that the family has increased number of functions. He believes that in the twentieth century a family has regulating sexual behaviour, it provides a responsible basis for procreation and the rearing of children, a family that cares for dependant members: young or old and act as a socialising agency at the earliest age. It is also a family that teaches other members the roles they play in society and helping them to ‘fit’ in with their surroundings. Fletcher’s theory also concentrates on consensus within the family, where all family members get along and provide support for each other emotionally or economically. I agree with Fletcher, I believe that his theory is fair and how most families are working now. As evidence families now are extended and tend to look after other members young or old e.g. grandparents.
Another similar functionalist explanation for the role of a family is made by Murdock. Much of the evidence of a universal family structure comes from the work of Murdock. His theory argued that the family was universal and every family performs three key functions which were that: It stabilizes sexual behaviour and reproduction, it provides basic economic requirements such as food and shelter, and serves the function of socialisation for the next generation to learn the norms and values and other aspects of society. Murdock included four main functions to a family; Economic, Sexual, Reproduction & Educational, these four points benefit to families and society as a whole. The Economic function is where men provide the family with money and basic needs and the woman stays at home to cook, clean and looks after the children. I feel that this is very inaccurate and does not supply a good definition of a family. In my opinion this is unfair and does not relate to society today. The Sexual function of a family is a monogamous relationship, a stable nuclear family, where there are no homosexual relationships or more than two people in a relationship in the society. The Reproduction function is where you have children and teach them your own beliefs which are then passed down to their kids continuing in generations. The Education function is where children go to school to learn and get good jobs teaching then to work in the world and how to be a human being. I agree with some of these factors which are relevant to society today, such as education reproduction. However I think that it is unfair to women by making them very stereotypical.
William J Goode was another sociologist who studied family trends throughout the world. His theory explained the worldwide trend towards a monogamous nuclear family structure. He argued that a nuclear family is an important beginning point if the global expansion of industrialisation. This means that a nuclear family slowly builds up to expand all over the world as a sort of industry. He argued that different diversities of family forms such as polygamy, extended families, and social families should not be acceptable and a family should be built up of a strong nuclear family with a caring mother and a working father providing for his family.
Along with Goode’s theory, the spreading images of ideals of love and romance become desirable to people across the world. Goode’s theory are based on a stereotypical family, working in the ‘natural’ division of labour and a worked on westernized forms of family structure and how making them increasingly popular all over the world. I don’t believe that a family has to be biologically related, I feel that the most important thing in the family is love and trust, therefore I disagree with Goode’s theory of an idealistic love and ‘normal’ westernised family structure. I feel that a family should be able to communicate and bond in order for it to be a successful family.
In conclusion of these four theories I feel that they can all relate to families in the modern world today. I think that some aspect of every theory relates to families working in society today. I feel that some are very stereotypical and sometimes don’t work in families in certain situations.