Functionalists believe that society is based on a value consensus – a set of shared norms and values – into which society socialises its members. Functionalists see the family as an important sub system – the basic building block of society that the family is made up of sub system that depend on the each other such as the family the education system and the economy, this is sometimes compared to the human body, which each organ representing something essential in society and in which all are needed for it to function properly. Murdock 1949 argues that the family preforms four essential functions for society, these being, Stabilisation of the sex drive with the same partner which prevents social disruption caused by promiscuity. Reproduction, without which, society would not continue. Socialising of the young into societies shared norms and values and meeting its member’s economic needs such as food and shelter. Although many argue Murdock’s view and say that many of these functions can be preformed by other institutions or by a non nuclear family just as well. Both feminists and Marxists disagree with him. Feminists saying that the family is only serving the needs of men and oppressing women, whereas Marxists argue that it meets the needs of capitalism, not those of family members or society as a whole.
Parsons developed his ‘Functional fit’ theory consisting of two functions. He states that the functions that the family has to preform will affect the structure of the family. Parsons distinguishes between two types of family structures. The nuclear family; which is the children and two married parents. And the extended family which is three generations living together. According to parsons the family type will fit into either modern industrial society or pre industrial society. He argues that the nuclear family is the best adapted for the modern industrial society whereas the extended is better suited for the pre industrial. Parson sees industrial society as…

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