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The Functionalist Viewpoint of Family

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The Functionalist Viewpoint of Family

Family is one of the many necessities in life, as it fulfills multiple distinct functions within society that are all of great importance. However, sociologists study the relative importance of family in many different ways, and like many other important factors of life is often studied using multiple different perspectives. Family is broken down into four different theoretical perspectives; the Functionalist Perspective, Conflict Perspective, Symbolic Interactionism Perspective, and the Social- Exchange Theory, each of which are used to better understand and classify the specific role of family within society.

The Functionalist Perspective primarily concentrates its argument based on family being the foundation of social order because of its ability to satisfy a magnitude of vital functions. These functions include defining and limiting sexual access, reproducing new members, socializing new members, caring for young and elderly, providing emotional support, as well as ascribed status. Another component of the Functionalist Perspective is the variation between different marriage customs are sometimes considered ecological adaptations for the purpose of helping ensure individual and social survival. While these aspects of the Functionalist Perspective are all true, the Functionalist Perspective somewhat ignores the fact that these same components could possibly be fulfilled by other social structures and social institutions, and does not touch on any of the negative aspects of family as the focal point of societal structure.

Similar to that of the Functionalist Perspective, the Conflict Perspective is also comprised of some of the same beliefs, such as family being viewed as the pivotal point of life. Contrary to the Functionalist Perspective, which focuses mainly of the beneficial aspects and positives of the family structure, the Conflict Perspective takes the opposite stance and tends to argue the negative aspects of the family structures, like family prolonging social inequality as members within a family are constantly struggling for access to resources. Some aspects that make up the Conflict Perspective are Property and Inheritence, Patriarchy, and Race and Ethnicity. Property and Inheritance is the belief that family is used as a means for concentrating wealth and reproducing the same class structure with each new generation. As fathers became older, they would pass down their property and belongings to their sons in order to accumulate wealth, and so on, thus creating a cycle of what some consider inequality. This eventually lead to the idea of Patriarchy, which means that men must be in control of women's sexuality in order to know who their heirs are, and over time, lead to women being transformed into the sexual and economic property of men. The third and final component of the Conflict Perspective is the belief that family leads

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