Functionalism family essay

Malinowski considered institutions to be examples of isolated organized behaviors. Since such behavior always involves a plurality of persons, an institution in this sense is therefore a social system, which is a subsystem of society. Though functionally differentiated from other institutions, an institution is a segmentary cross-section of culture that involves all the components included in Malinowski's definition of culture (Firth 1957:59). Malinowski believed that the central feature of the charter of an institution is “the system of values for the pursuit of which human beings organize, or enter organizations already existing” (Malinowski 1944:52). As for the concept of function, Malinowski believed it is the primary basis of differentiation of institutions within the same culture. In other words, institutions differ because they are organized to serve different functions. He argued that institutions function for continuing life and "normality" of an organism, or an aggregate of organisms as a species (Firth 1957:60). Indeed, for Malinowski, the primary reference of the concept of function was to a theory of the biological needs of the individual organism:

the physical-chemical state in question must be a possible state of a mammalian brain, a reptilian brain, a mollusc’s brain (octopuses are mollusca, and certainly feel pain), etc. At the same time, it must not be a possible (physically possible) state of the brain of any physically possible creature that cannot feel pain. Even if such a state can be found, it must be nomologically certain that it will also be a state of the brain of any extraterrestrial life that may be found that will be capable of feeling pain before we can even entertain the supposition that it may be pain. (Putnam 1967: 436)

The Marxist and Functionalist Perspectives on the Family

For the purpose of this essay question I will discuss the Marxist and
the Functionalist perspectives on the Family. I will compare and
contrast them and give a critical analysis of each and place them in
historical context as well as modern day. In Britain today there are
many different types of families. A social unit living together
defines what a family is. The family resembles the core feature of
society. Both Marxist and Functionalist perspectives believe the
family is what holds society together and helps socialise the future
generations.

There are three types of family existing in today’s society. The
nuclear family resembles a family unit made up of no more than two
generations, stereotyped as a mother, father and children. The
extended family refers to a family unit made of many three generations
or more who live with each other or near by. This type is typical of
pre-industrial or ‘primitive’ societies. The third type of family is
the reconstituted. This type has become more apparent in modern day
society. It refers to adults who have married before and have brought
their children from the first marriage to the second, creating a new
family unit. It is important to note that not every household includes
a family – for example student flats.

The functionalist perspective believe society is like a machine in
that all its institutions sustain continuity and consensus and keep
society running smoothly. Functionalists believe the family
contributes to society’s basic needs and helps maintain social order.
Functionalists have been criticised for placing too much ...


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...e into existence with the invention of private property. Both
Murdock and Parsons paint a very ‘rosy’ picture of family life. They
fail to take in account the darker side of society and family issues
such as domestic abuse etc. Parsons views on men and women in
relationships are often out dated. A lot of women these days are the
breadwinners in the family and therefore the husband and wife roles
have been reversed. Functionalist do not recognise that women suffer
from the sexual division of labour while Marxists highlight this is
their theory. Marxists also come under scrutiny for exaggerating the
importance of the family life as being a refuge from the capitalist
society. Marxists also underestimate darker issues such as violence
within the home etc. Zaretsky overemphasises the fact that family and
work are separated.
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Functionalism family essay

functionalism family essay

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