The basic theory of family

While anthropologists and sociologists have paid a lot of attention over family structures in different societies, the majority of works in the field of sociology of the family is dedicated to the analysis of families in the West: its essence, a place in society and the changes taking place in it over time.This subject, as well as other areas of sociology, is considered mainly on the basis of functionalism and conflict theory.

Functionalism Proponents of functionalism usually analyze society from the point of view of the influence of hotel of its parts on the functioning of the whole.Family or one part of the society considered in terms of its functions or social needs that it satisfies.Proponents of functionalism emphasize changes in family functions in the past two centuries;most of them say that in this period the western family has lost its inherent function (Ogborn, Nimkoff, 1955).Consider the following examples.

Economic functions

In any society, the family plays a major economic role.In peas

ant agriculture and handicrafts family is a joint co-operative labor union.Responsibilities are allocated in accordance with the age and sex of family members.Among the great changes brought about by the emergence of industrial production, was the destruction of the cooperative system of production.Workers began to work outside the home, and economic role of the family has been reduced to only spend money earned family breadwinner.Although sometimes the wife worked, it was basic connectivity in the upbringing of children.


status in industrial societies there were different customs and laws, more or less automatically assigned the status occupied by families from all walks of life.

Hereditary monarchy is a vivid example of such usage.The aristocrats who owned the land and titles, could transmit its status to children.Among the lower class there guilds and training system crafts;thus profession can be transmitted from one generation to the next.

Revolution that took place in the XIX and XX centuries., Carried out with the aim of destroying the privileges of some groups.Among these privileges was the right and title transfer, status and wealth to the next generation.In some countries, including the US, inheritance aristocratic titles outlawed.Progressive taxes, and taxes on insurance in case of death also limit the possibility of wealth preservation and transfer his inheritance.However, the rich high-ranking families still have the advantage when it comes to the transfer of wealth and children status.But this is done rather than on the basis of inheritance, but in the form of training children to receive that education and a job, which provide a high status.Members of the upper class are able to pay for elite education and support, "love", contributing to the high status.But these benefits are largely lost their meaning, becoming less stable and reliable than ever before.


family is the main agent of socialization in all societies.It is there that children learn the basic knowledge required for the performance of adult roles.But industrialization and related social changes in some way deprived of a family of functions.The most important development was the introduction of mass secondary education.At the age of 4 or 5 children were educated not only at home, a profound impact on them is a teacher.Development of the system of preschool institutions and voluntary associations for children (such as Scouts and summer camp groups) increased the number of agents of socialization that perform this function, along with his family.

Social welfare

In traditional peasant and artisan societies, the family provides many functions to maintain the "welfare" of people, such as caring for the sick and elderly family members.But these features have changed dramatically in the course of the emergence and development of the industrial society and the welfare state.Doctors and medical institutions almost completely replaced the family in relation to concerns about the health of the people, although family members still to decide whether there is a need to seek medical help.Life insurance, unemployment benefits and social security funds by eliminated the need for families to assume full assistance to its members in times of economic difficulties.Similarly, social benefits, hospitals and retirement homes eased the burden for families caring for the elderly.

Most supporters of functionalism agree that these changes have taken place for two centuries, but their meaning is the subject of dispute.Some, such as Oz and Nimkoff-Born (1955), believe that such changes are contributing to the destruction of the family.They talk about the many social evils, such as an increase in youth crime, an increase in the number of divorces, the weakening of parental authority, indicating that the disintegration of the family as a social force.Other researchers, such as Parsons and Bales (1955), argue that the family, the partial loss of its inherent functions and become more specialized institution engaged primarily socialization of children in early childhood and providing them emotional satisfaction plays a more effective role than before,in training children to perform in the future adult roles in the modern industrial society.

Theory conflict

Functionalist concept of family prevailed in American sociology in the 50s and 60s.Since then, however, for many reasons it is called into question, and gradually began to occupy the dominant position of the theory of conflict.Functionalism is criticized mainly for the fact that for him part of the society - elements of a well-functioning mechanism, constantly adapting to each other.Hart-Mann (1981) dared to make certain criticisms.She argues that in terms of functionalism family - the "social power" on a par with economic change, social class, etc.Consequently, "it is assumed that within the family there is a unity of interests;emphasizes the role of the family as a whole and the interests of the differences or conflicts between family members is usually not taken into account. "

theory of conflict is coming to an explanation of the structure of the family at different levels.Some researchers focus on the analysis about the distribution of power within the family, emphasizing the mechanism of decision-making.As a rule, family members, owning more material means, acquire a lot of power in the family.Safilios-Rothschild (1976) asserts that love has an effect on the distribution of power between spouses.According to him, a loving spouse has less power because there is a greater psychological dependence.The couple, equally loving each other, usually have the same power in the family.According Safilios Rothschild, as the wife usually takes more love towards her husband, the marriage can be seen as a kind of exchange: the wife gives love for access to social and economic benefits, which is more than her husband.

Another view more focused on the conflict, the family is seen as a microcosm of the conflict in the "big" society, in the past, the idea expressed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.They argued that the industrial revolution has contributed to the transformation of the family in the totality of monetary relations.For example, as a result of child labor children in working class families have become a commodity and tools.In middle-class families with women treated as household slaves.The women of the working class were forced to work outside the home to earn money necessary for family survival.But because they were paid, their position is increasingly approaching the status of men.than women of the middle class.

modern version of the theory of the conflict concerning the family, proposed by Hartmann (1981).She calls it a "mark-Marxist--feminist."In her opinion, a genuine understanding of the essence of the family is not related to the analysis of emotional or familial relationship between its members;family - "the place of the fight."The family made economic production and wealth redistribution, the interests of each of its members are in conflict with the interests of other members and society as a whole.

What are these conflicts?Examples are shown in Table.2. These include disputes over who should make money, do housework, which part of the family income should be paid to the state, etc.Hartmann believes that the development of the capitalist patriarchal system has led to the concentration of economic resources in the hands of the capitalists and men.To ensure the survival of the lower classes (ie, workers and women) should be established mechanisms of redistribution of material resources.Work for the money is a way of redistributing a share of the wealth of the capitalists in favor of the workers, and the family is carried out mainly men redistribution of wealth, resulting in a fraction of the wealth obtained by women.According to this view, among other things, the family becomes a battlefield where there are conflicts over the redistribution of funds,