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Functionalism In Young families And Societies

Functionalists view the family as a nuclear family framework, i. e. a mom, father and one or two 2 children. Murdock surveyed 250 societies from the small hunting tribes to the large industrialised societies. He found that in every world there was some form of a nuclear family, he concluded out of this analysis that the nuclear family was universal. Murdock's definition of a nuclear family is

Within the platform of the nuclear family, Murdock determined with four family functions which if were ignored, society would not exist. Sexual, Reproduction, Economic and Education were the four functions. Much like Murdock, Tallcott Parsons another functionalist got his own views of what functions the nuclear family should contribute to society. He thought that there were two important assignments within the family - Expressive and Instrumental. The women's role was the Expressive role as she was the one who brought up, nurtured and taught the children the norms and ideals within the house. The man's role was the Instrumental role because he went out to work to provide financial security for his family. Parsons also recognized the family being the primary agent of socialisation and came up with the 'warm bath theory' - principal socialisation (norms and values) and stabilisation of adult personalities (support and love for the adults within the family.


Functionalist's view of the family is similar to a fairy tale, because they ignore the family dynamics and in some family members the darker side i. e. abuse, neglect and violence through men domination.


A Marxist point of view of the family observed the family as a means of development and cheap labour whereby they can be inspired by capitalism in a capitalist population. Marxists recognized three main functions that they saw for the family to fulfil for capitalism. Inheritance of Property - means that for property to be handed down to the best heir, sexual connections need to be restricted to one individual, thus the offspring would be blood related. For this to occur,

The monogamous nuclear family developed with the emergence of private property, in particular the private ownership of the causes of development, and the introduction of the state, (cited in Haralambos, M. 1985. 340)

The second function is the Ideological Functions which people need to fulfil by socialising children with the ideas that there will always be bosses and personnel within the capitalist society. The final function talks about the machine of Ingestion whereby people work to produce goods, that are bought by the households to enable them to be given and clothed, which bring higher income for the capitalists.


Marxists ignore different structures of young families which are found in today's contemporary society and with this the different jobs within the family.


Feministic views of the family are put into 3 groupings, similar compared to that of the main element perspectives. Liberal feminists think that both the men and the females have similar roles within the family when it comes to the household chores and childcare. Marxist feminists view the ladies as the developer of future personnel and women's oppression stems from capitalism and not the family. Radical feminist's view of the family structure is one of patriarchal which men have emerged as the enemy. This type of family within society is also seen by feminists as the main element establishment in its contribution to maintaining social control


All three branches of feminism view the nuclear family as the most dominant product within society, as well as believing that all members of the family serve society, accomplishing different functions.

Post Modernist

A post modernistic view of the family is at the opposite ends of the range to functionalism. Post modernists assume that generally in most societies there are diverse and multi-cultural types of families where people within these models are free to make their own life choices concerning how, what and their current address, work and socialise within world. Post modernists also believe everyone is eligible for the same opportunities in education, professional medical and family support just as their view, there are no school divisions (working and ruling classes), in most societies. Zietlin et al summarises this view of the world,

The post modern world is molded by pluralism, democracy, spiritual freedom, consumerism, mobility and increasing access to media and entertainment, (Zietlin category handout 2009. 92)


Because of these views of equal opportunities and liberty of conversation and alternatives they ignore the fact that a lot of people can and do make wrong choices with regards to overlooking the norms and beliefs which are passed down the decades which inevitably upsets the communal control aspects in some societies.

How the jobs and associations of the family have change as time passes.

Sociologists view childhood as Social Construction because they are biologically particular from parents, (Harris, M. 2008. 44)

For this reason I will explain the question in two parts.


The role of the child inside a pre-industrial family (pre 1750), was one of similar standing. When the kid could walk and talk they were taught the family trade and were likely to carry on the family custom. After the industrial revolution came up the introduction of the industrial family (1800-1900), when children as young as 6 or 7 were delivered to work in factories and down coal mines to bring money into the house, however this caused higher mortality rates because children weren't as strong as adults. The mortality rates travelled into decrease when the present day industrial family emerged (1900-2000), this is because children were getting to be viewed as children rather than as cheap labour. Experiences of childhood started to emerge in most of children within young families, however there are still some societies today that still send their children out to work, but this is currently not typical in today's world.

Gender tasks and relationships

During the pre-industrial years both men and women worked together with other members of the family. However this all changed between 1750 and 1900 when women were expected to stay at home and become responsible for household chores, childcare and producing the near future workforce. This sort of family structure was very patriarchal - the men acquired the energy so they were the dominators in the family. However this started to change when the modern industrial family surfaced between 1900 and 2000, as more women received the chance to become informed, this led to more ladies in the workforce. This led the family to share the household tasks and the childcare and sometimes swap jobs within the family if the person became unemployed.

Diversity of the contemporary family structure

What is a family group? This question has been raised by many sociologists and the majority of these have all possessed different opinion. Yet, in response to this question, a family group can be the nuclear or expanded kind of family, that happen to be 2 or 3 3 years living under one roof. This sort of family was more prevalent pre-1750 when families worked with and supported one another, and which still does indeed happen in some cultures and societies i. e. Asian individuals. Other styles of family constructions which are more common in Britain today will be the one parent young families, the step individuals, the divorced young families and the gay and lesbian families who have children. Family members today are extremely diverse and multi-cultural through social influences from the marketing, education and global improvements.


Throughout this assignment I have paid particular attention to the different views of Functionalism, Marxism, Feminism and Post Modernism. I've given an evaluation of each perspective and also have briefly described the changes in tasks, relationships and constructions within families. I've concluded in my analysis that my judgment of young families and homes is one that in today's society of choice, liberty, diversity and multi-cultural constructions that post modernism is by far the best view and explanation of culture today.

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