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Using Material from Item 2b and Elsewhere Assess the Functionalist Contribution to Our Understanding of the Family.

  • Date Submitted: 02/08/2012 02:06 AM
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Using material from item 2B and elsewhere assess the functionalist contribution to our understanding of the family.  
Functionalism focuses on the positive roles played by different institutions of society, the main one being the family. Functionalism see family as a vital organisation in all societies, they are needed to meet basic needs. Functionalism stresses the positive role of the family, and its great importance for society. Functionalists argue that the family has essential functions which it must perform to meet the basic needs of society and its members. Murdock argues that this makes the family a universal institution. Murdock argues that the family perform four simple functions; 2 of which are identified in item 2B reproductive – this is where you reproduce for the next generation and socialisation – being able to socialise your children. The other main functions of the family are sexual – this is where you satisfy your needs with one partner, economic – for example food and shelter. Murdock argues that the importance of these functions are so vital that they have to exist everywhere.

Other sociologists such as Parsons argue that the family may meet other needs too. For example it may perform welfare, military, political or religious functions. In the view of Talcott Parsons, the functions it performs will depend on the kind of society in which it is found. He distinguishes between two kinds of family structure. Firstly the nuclear family – just parents and dependent children. Secondly the extended family – three generations living under one roof. Parsons argues that the particular structure and functions of a given type of family will ‘fit’ the needs of the society. He says that the nuclear family fits the need of industrial society and is the dominant family type in that society, whereas the extended family fit the needs of the pre-industrial society.
In item A it claims “The family reproduces the next generation and thereby ensures the...

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