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answer to midterm q1

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Lina Samuel

SOC244 Sociology of Families, summer 2010 Midterm review questions: #1 Haneen Aboshawish 1) In what way(s) do conflictMarxist theories challenge the functionalist understanding of the family? Explain. To functionalists, like Talcott Parsons (1955), the family is a harmonic system at the heart of society, considered a sacred institution, an equilibrium-based, male- dominated politically conservative institution. George P.Murdock (1949) claimed that the nuclear family is so useful to society that it is inevitable and universal appearing everywhere, the family is universal because it fulfils essential functions for society, Murdoch (1949) says that the nuclear family is universal and natural, (BUT, by taking a cross cultural look at families we see families are diverse, so nuclear family isnt universal), he states 5 functions of the nuclear family include: (1)Sexual regulation, (2)Economic cooperation, (3)Reproduction, (4)Socialization, and (5)Emotional Support. Another functionalist, Bronislaw Malinowski (1913) said the main function of families is nurturing their children. Functionalists have been accused of idealising the family, ignoring conflict and abuse within families, ignoring gender inequality within families, ignoring the rising divorce rates, ignoring growing family diversity, etc. Conflict Marxist is a theoretical perspective that views society as an unequal system that brings about conflict and change. Conflict theory looks at the balance between the order and disorder in the family structure. Conflict Marxist theories challenge the functionalist view of family as a harmonic system, as they view family as a diverse system. For example, the role of the family in maintaining inequalities in male-female relationships is examined. (Marxist Feminism claims that the origins of the nuclear family are situated within the social relations of capitalism). Fundamental assumption, shared with general conflict theory include conflict is a basic element of human social life, and a basic reason for conflict is individuals are motivated to act in accordance with their own interests. People pursue needs, values, goals, and resources that they define as important or desirable to them. According to Conflict Marxist theorists: Different individuals or groups could want different things. This is applicable to the family, for example, children argue about use of television, parents and children disagreeing about issues, etc. Or, different individuals or groups want the same thing, but there is a limited supply of the commodity. For example, men and women compete for time, men not doing housework because it isnt profitable, etc. Page 1 of 4
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