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The Key Thinkers in Sociology

Talcott Parsons (1902-79) was an integral functionalist thinker. He recommended a special kind of sociology called functionalism. He said that the function of anything is the job that it can. Functionalists see contemporary society as a cultural system consisting of interrelated and inter-dependent establishments, such as education, work, religious beliefs, legislation, the family. The overall function of these institutions is to keep up cultural order. The nuclear family is suggested by the functionalist sociologists as typical in modern industrial societies, and this it has a number of functions that contribute to the well-being of the contemporary society. The family is the principal agent of socialisation. It socialises new members by instructing them common norms and ideals. The family create consensus and order. Parsons (1995) argued that families are 'personality manufacturer'; they produce children who shared same norms and ideals and have strong sense of owned by society.

There are criticisms of the functionalist view of the family. The idea that the family benefits all individuals has been highly attacked, typically by feminist sociologists, who claim that the family is merely there to exploit and oppress women. They believe that the rosy harmonious family life colored by functionalist ignores sociable problem such as increases in divorce rate, child abuse and domestic violence. The analyses are based on middle-class and American variations of family life, plus they didn't add other influences such as ethnicity, communal class, religion. They also see children as passive recipients of culture and this view under-estimates the role of children in families. To conclude, functionalist thinking of the family suggests that natural needs support the nuclear family, even though there is absolutely no scientific evidence to aid this view.

Feminism is the sociological perspective which examines contemporary society from the point of view of women. It contrasts with traditional sociology, that was dominated by men and male concerns. There are in least four types of feminists who identify different known reasons for women's unequal situation in culture. They will be the Marxist feminists who argued the relationship between capitalism and family, private property and the home wife role. The liberal feminist duels on the lack of identical opportunities in modern culture. The radical feminists talk about patriarchy; this predates capitalism and present in most civilizations. The difference feminists in its theory declare that certain sets of women might have unique situation that down sides them.

Feminists have been highly critical of the family, unlike other critics; they have tended to stress the hazardous effects of family life upon women. This has led these to the development of new perspectives and highlighted new issues. They have for example, launched the analysis of areas of family life such as housework and home assault into sociology. They have got challenged the views about the inevitability of the male dominance in families and questioned the views that family life is becoming egalitarian (becoming identical). Feminists have also highlighted the economic contribution created by women domestic labour within the family. Their theory has gained the interest sociologists to see the family as an establishment involving power relationship. They may have challenged the image of the family life as being based on cooperation, shared hobbies and love. It shows that men obtain increased benefits from households than others. Some feminists have recently come out to question why other feminists should condemn family life. Some have also argued that feminists should recognise the many advancements in family life for girls over the past years. All feminists, however, claim that family life still down sides women.

The Marxist theory of the family developed from the work of Karl Marx (1818-1883). Marx thought modern culture was made up of two important parts, the financial basic or infrastructure and the superstructure, which include the family. By economic platform, Marx means the capitalist system of production and the capitalist category composition, whereas by the superstructure, Marx means the other companies of world, the family, the training system, the media, the spiritual system, the political system and the legal system. He argued that the economic base affects the company of the establishments of the superstructure in order that they operate to keep up the capitalist system.

Federich Engels (1884) was a close friend and colleague of Marx. He thought that early contemporary society was based on a primitive form of communism. There was no such thing as private property, wealth was communally had, there have been no rules restricting sexual behaviour and undiscriminating erotic behaviour was the norm. The culture was the family. Engels thought a monogamous nuclear family became more important as private property became more important in population. Property was had by males and they needed to make sure of the legitimacy of their heirs (inheritors), and matrimony was the best the best solution. This increased control over women or patriarchy.

The criticism against Marxism is that there surely is a significant working category support for the family which is difficult to describe this if the family is a way to obtain working category oppression. People have sometimes helped their members to cope with the injustices of the capitalist system. There has being dynamic opposition to the capitalist system, although such opposition happen only in a minority of families.

According to Talcott Parsons (1950), family framework changed as world industrialised. Families in Britain have altered over the decades. It has modified from expanded family to nuclear family. The expanded family was during the pre-industrial culture. People needed to have lots of relatives with them to share the family's work (such as owning a farm) and support them in sickness and old age. The best change came with the Industrial Trend bringing in the nuclear family. The period of Industrial Trend (1750-1850) was when modern industry predicated on factories developed, and people moved in good sized quantities from country areas to new commercial cities. Before the Industrial Revolution, it was difficult to split up home and everyone worked mutually. As time changes, it was men who visited work and women just remained home to do the cooking and cleaning.

Young and Willmott carried out studies of working-class people in London in the 1950s and 1960s. They found strong extended family sites in Bethnal Green, East London. The most important characteristic of British family today is variety. The various types of family will be the nuclear family; it is made up an adult man, adult female and their child or children. The lone mother or father people are one father or mother, father or mother and his or her child or children. Reconstituted households are new family created after divorce through a second matrimony, with stepparents and stepchildren. Co-habitation family is a name for folks who live under same roof structure. The occurrence of minority ethnic groups (afro-Caribbean people and the Asian households) has also added to the variety of Britain's individuals.

A study by Young and Willmott (1973) found that joint role acquired replaced separate tasks in the home with tasks and decision making now distributed. But Ann Oakley (1974) criticised this view and argued that split roles remain in the home. Stephen Edgell (2000) found that in the middle class, women had only responsibility for financial decisions in relatively unimportant areas such as home decorating and children clothing. The decisions on major spending were made jointly.

Evidence shows that many women have dual burden of labour, home and work responsibilities. Sociologists Mary Boulton suggests that women have additional psychological role in the house. She called it a triple burden. Studies conducted in the 90s by sociologists showed that the role of dad was changing. They will attend to the birth of their infants and play better role in childcare than in the 60s. Burghes (1997) says fathers are actually more actively involved in the psychological development of their children. The explanation for this, regarding to Beck (1992) is that father can't rely on jobs to provide a sense of id, they rely more on their children for your.

Feminist have outlined the influence of patriarch ideology along the way both husbands and wives perceive their respective situations. Ann Oakley's review, The Sociology of Housework (1974) require forty housewives, six were applied beyond your home. She found that middle class husbands gave more assist with childcare than with housework. Oakley's survey has been supported by subsequent surveys. The above mentioned finding contradicts the positive view of Young and Willmott. Their picture of symmetrical family where couple share their work was predicated on responses to only 1 question.

Functionalists see the sexual division of labour at home as biologically inescapable. Marxist feminist argue that the housewife role acts the necessity of capitalism. Radical feminists believe like Delphy (1984) that the first oppression is the oppression of women by men.

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