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Functionalist View of Changes in Family

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The nuclear family of Britain during the past century evolved according to the functionalist perspective because it was best suited to an industrial society.   “ Its smallness of scale makes for ease of social mobility.   It fits the needs of an advanced industrial society, in the same way, that larger extended families fitted the needs of an agricultural society” (Covington, 1995, p. 2).   Functionalist sociologists would say a new situation has come about, in which activities in the home are shared so society has entered into a new stable state.

  In truth, the functionalist point of view is that the increasing numbers of working women have been caused a negative effect on family life.   They would argue that as soon as the wife acquires her own earnings, the balance of power and harmony of the typical marriage is altered and the family unit suffers.   Each member of the family must assume different specific roles in order to function properly, for example, the father specialized in instrumental leadership, which are impersonal or formal, such as providing financial support for the family (Parsons,   1954).   The stay-at-home mother, on the other hand, emphasized expressive leadership, which are personal and informal, such as supportive and emotional nurturing to all family members (Wallace & Wolf, 1999, p.

31).   The functionalist would have the woman at home raising the children and making the man's home life run smoothly, so he can dedicate himself to his career.   Women need to be educated because they need to live up to expectations which come with being the wife of a man of a certain status.   The man is from where the woman receives her status.

The functionalist opinion is that families should be functional for both society and individuals.   To accomplish this ideal, families follow the same essential criteria, the man married to a woman raising children.   This ideology does not judge the single-parent family household to be practical and certainly does not hold those alternative lifestyle partnerships as beneficial to society.  

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