Compare and Contrast Functionalist and Marxist Views on the Family
Many sociologists have created their own definition of family but it is generally defined as a group of people who are linked together, usually by blood, in close relationship and provide security and stability to each other. Some believe that there are specific limitations on what constitutes a family, whereas others are more liberal and insist that any group of people can be a family, if that is what they perceive themselves to be.
Functionalism is a ‘consensus theory’ that emerged in the 19th century and has its origins in the works of Emile Durkheim, who was especially interested in how social order is possible and how society remains relatively stable. He was the first person to study how society reacted to the industrial revolution and as such is known to be the ‘Founder of Sociology’. Durkheim formed the ‘Structural Theory’, which is the idea that society is comprised of interrelated parts, or social institutions, each contributing to the smooth running of society. A consensus theory is defined as one that believes all parts of society perform a positive role and each part benefits the other, for example, a happy family is more likely to produce children who do well in education and therefore go onto become good workers.
The main Functionalist view on familial ideology is by George Murdock (1949), who identifies the nuclear family as a ‘universal social grouping’ which consists of characteristics such as a sexual relationship between a married couple and the reproduction of children. He believed patriarchy, also known as male domination, was necessary as he believed the father should control his family by providing the income and making most of the household decisions. Parsons (1950s) added that the two main functions of the family were (i) teach their children how to socialize within society and (ii) provide adults with security and stability from the strains of the outside...