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The sociological perspectives provide view regarding the social backgrounds that influence behaviour, attitudes and changes in life in the society. In regard to it, the people in the society are not just individuals rather social beings who are deeply enmeshed within the society. The key sociological perspectives are functionalism, symbolic interaction and conflict theory. In this study, the role of the family from the functionalist sociological perspective is to be explained to inform the way functionalist view the concept of family in the society.
Functionalist perspective of the role of the family
The functionalism theory informs that the family is an important institution in the society and it acts as basic building block for the people in the society by performing crucial functions in socialising the young individuals and meeting the emotional needs of the family members. The perspective informs that stable families show effective economic stability and enhanced social order (Dempsey, 2017). Thus, it indicates that families have the role in making the young individuals in the society learn social norms and values to socialise and upheld their traditions. According to Radcliffe-Brown, who is a structural functionalist mention that majority of the stateless and primitive societies which lacked strong presence of centralised institutions are seen to be based on corporate-decent groups for their organisation and smooth running in the society (Mancuso, 2020). The structural functionalist developed the argument on this basis that nuclear family is the building block of the society and the clan is outgrown and vice-versa. (Tandi, 2019). The key functionalist Durkheim was found to be concerned with the question regarding the way certain societies are able to maintain stability over time in their internal aspect. Durkheim on the basis of the metaphor regarding organism resolved the question and mentioned that complex society are collaboratively held with the help of organic solidarity (Rusli, 2020). Thus, it indicates that role of the family is to create stable and organised societies with strong internal traditions and customs. The functionalist perspective informs that family has the role to instil culture and values to the new members in the society. This indicates that families play a major part in passing on their culture and tradition to new members to make the values of the family living in the community to be passed on for ages without interruption (Rusli, 2020). It is evident as the parents in the family initially make the children learn the cultural value and tradition they are to be upheld with growing up to ensure showing proper respect to others in the society as well as to other family members (Ran and Liu, 2020). The fact is also supported by Parsons who mentioned that teaching children regarding social norms and values is the role of primary socialisation to be performed by the family. The functionalist mentions that if primary socialisation is effectively done by the family it leads them also to play the role of making the children learn regarding gender role socialisation. This means the boys in this aspect who be able to effectively learn regarding the way to play their role as breadwinner for the family by going out to earn money through work. Moreover, the girl would learn regarding the way to adopt their role of being the key carer and executing household work along with bringing up children in the family to maintain proper social constructs (Faremi and Jita, 2018). The functionalist mentions that the other role of the family is to reproduce new members and replace the dying members to maintain proper progeny of them in the society. It is important as otherwise the family would end with no future people to extend their name in the society (Midakso and Eshetie, 2018). The other role of the family according to functionalist perspective is providing individual properly rights to their children and their progeny along with maintain the assistance and management of kinship order (Midakso and Eshetie, 2018). The functionalist informs that the family also have the role to provide emotional security and meet the emotional needs of the family member. This aspect can be explained through the warm bath theory of Parsons who is also a functionalist. The theory informs that adults in the family develop emotional security through presence of marital relationship between two adults (Fevre et al., 2020). Parsons mentions that work-life of the people in the industrial society is stressful and the working man only have the place to come back to his wife in the family to get destressed that effects to reduce conflict within the society (Midakso and Eshetie, 2018). The role of the family includes providing care to the elderly and the children as well as other members of the family who are unable to manage their own care (Mahlert, 2020). This is to help the individual live quality life and maintain harmony. The family also have the role to support and provide education to the children alongside sending them to school to ensure they become educated and responsible people in the society (Mahlert, 2020). The criticism of functionalist perspective in explaining role of family is that it develops a rosy picture and ignores the family’s role in the downplay conflict which results in violence against women, child abuse and others darker things (Allen and Henderson, 2016). The other criticism is that functionalist perspective is considered to be outdated in explaining effective role of the family to promote gender constructs because in the current generation women are found to be equally working with men which is not highlighted through the perspective while explaining the family role (Allen and Henderson, 2016). The other criticism is that functionalist perspective is too much deterministic in explaining the role of the family regarding guiding children socialisation and personality development in the society. This is evident as it ignores the pre-determined constructs within the mind of the child that dictates their behaviour irrespective of the family's involvement (Lukes and Scull, 2017).
The above discussion informs that from functionalist perspective, the role of the family is to act as building block of the society and has the key function in passing on values, culture and custom to the children to help them develop enhanced behaviour and execute socialisation. The family also have the role to care and provide emotional support to members in the family, reproduce, arrange food and shelter and others.
Allen, K.R. and Henderson, A.C., 2016. Family theories: Foundations and applications. John Wiley & Sons.
Dempsey, H.L., 2017. A comparison of the social-adaptive perspective and functionalist perspective on guilt and shame. Behavioral Sciences, 7(4), p.83.
Faremi, A.F. and Jita, L.C., 2018. Assessment of family characteristics and learners’ variables in enhancing academic achievement motivation in secondary schools. Rethinking Teaching and learning in the 21st Century, pp.147-161.
Fevre, R., Guimarães, I. and Zhao, W., 2020. Context and implications document for: Parents, individualism and education: three paradigms and four countries. Review of Education, 8(3), pp.727-732.
Lukes, S. and Scull, A. eds., 2017. Durkheim and the Law. Palgrave Macmillan.
Mahlert, B., 2020. Addressing Parsons in sociological textbooks: Past conflicts, contemporary readers, and their future gains. The American Sociologist, pp.1-19.
Mancuso, A., 2020. Before and After Science: Radcliffe-Brown, British Social Anthropology, and the Relationship Between Field Research, Ethnography, and Theory. In Ethnography (pp. 51-80). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.
Midakso, B. and Eshetie, S., 2018. The Roles of Family Arbitrators in the Settlement of Disputes Arising out of Marriage and the Constraints Thereof: The Law and the Practice in Oromia National Regional State. East African Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities, 3(1), pp.87-104.
Ran, G.J. and Liu, L.S., 2020. ‘Forced’family separation and inter-generational dynamics: multi-generational new Chinese immigrant families in New Zealand. Kōtuitui: New Zealand Journal of Social Sciences Online, pp.1-20.
Rusli, R., 2020. The Role of Family in Preventing Social Conflict in Society From Islamic Perspectives. Hunafa: Jurnal Studia Islamika, 17(1), pp.108-122.
Tandi, S., 2019. Educational contribution of Emile Durkheim: a functional assessment. research journal of social sciences, 10(2).pp.9-34.
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