Sociological Perspectives on the Family Functionalists believed in a theory that the family is a positive institution. They believe the family perform six major functions: 1. Reproduction. Ensures that the society’s population willbe maintained. This is a basic function of the family to keep the cycle of life span continuation In today’s society, families are smaller and couples are delaying the child rearing experiences until their careers are established and stabilized (Schaefer, R. 2009). 2. Protection. The child at birth is complete helpless and cannot survive at all without the help of the family.
It is the family which provides care, protection, security and fulfils all other needs to make him fit in the society (Schaefer, R. 2009). 3. Socialization. This is perhaps the most basic and important function of the family because it teaches its family members norms, value morals, beliefs and ideals of society. In the family the children first learn what is good and bad, what is right and wrong Schaefer, R. 2009). 4. Regulation of sexual behavior. Every society has rules that regulate sexual behavior within family units. Most cultures have incest taboos, and most disapprove of extramarital sex.
Standards of sexual behavior are most clearly defined within the family circle (Schaefer, R. 2009). 5. Affection and companionship. Most people need affection, emotional support, and positive recognition from others. This sharing and support may be provided as well by friends, neighbors, coworkers, or government agencies, but none of these appears to be as effective or as permanent as a family (Schaefer, R. 2009). 6. Provision of social status. We inherit a social position because of the family background and repu- tation of our parents and siblings.
The family presents the newborn child with an ascribed status based on race and ethnicity that helps to determine his or her place within society’s stratification system. Moreover, family resources affect children’s ability to pursue certain opportunities, such as higher education and special lessons (Schaefer, R. 2009). Conflict theorists do not disagree with functionalists regarding family functions. Conflict theory argue that the family contributes to societal injustice, denies women opportunities that are extend to men. The conflict perspective has a different take on the family relationships.
This society looks at family as miniature class society where dominant groups oppress the weaker sections. For example, in the family men tend to dominate the family as they are bread earners and control economy of the house. After marriage, women have no choice but have to live with their husbands and compromise accordingly because that is the age old practice where women are subjected to oppression. The children in the house also have to listen to parents as they are more experienced and their authority is legitimized by the society. Parents always have an edge over their children only because they are parents.
Children do not have absolute freedom in this situation. Such situations lead to conflict in the family. Sometimes there are fights in the family between husband and wife, or parents and children that is necessary to bring the social change. As conflict theorists point out, the social class of parents significantly influences children’s socialization experiences and the degree of protection they receive. This means that the socioeconomic status of a child’s family will have a marked influence on his or her nutrition, health care, housing, educational opportunities, and in many respects, life chances as an adult.
For this reason, conflict theorists argue that the family helps to maintain inequality (Schaefer, R. 2009). Interactionists focus on the micro level of family and other intimate relationships. They are interested in how individuals interact with one another. For example, interactionist might focus on the roles of the different family members. They may examine and study the role of the mother , father, grandparents (Schaefer, R. 2009) References: Schaefer, R. (2009) Sociology; A Brief Introduction. McGraw-Hill