Assess the view that the family performs vital, positive functions for society and individual members.

Essay by ask.mHigh School, 11th gradeA-, November 2006

download word file, 6 pages 4.7

The family was once described as a social group that shared common residence, consisted of at least two adults of each sex that maintained a socially approved sexual relationship and had one or more children, their own or adopted. This is a nuclear family, described by George Murdoch to be a universal family type. Although it is correct to say that nuclear families reside universally, family types now vary from single-parent families to gay headed families. Despite the variety, they contribute to the society, in ways that can be positive and negative too. Many sociologists differ in their views as to whether the family is positive to the society or not- functionalists believe that the family has positive functions that contribute positively to the society but it has to be said that functionalists tend to ignore negative aspects of the family such as the 'dark side', which consists of all that makes the family a negative experience for its members.

Nevertheless there are sociologists that focus on only the negative aspects, such as, radical psychiatrists, radical feminists and Marxists. The new right theory has faith that family is a positive function of the society, however new rights only refer to nuclear families, as they believe that any other family type is inferior.

Functionalism is a consensus theory which looks at society positively. Functionalists often make an organic analogy, as a human body is maintained by the functions of each part of a body, keeping it alive and healthy, similarly, and society is kept going by its institutions- family being one of the institutions which function to sustain the well-being of society. It is recognised by functionalists that families change themselves over time for the sake of adapting to society, an exemplar would be leading functionalist Emile Durkheim who strongly believed...