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Structuralist theories

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Rebecca Dixon

on 1 October 2013

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Transcript of Structuralist theories

Structuralist theories
Talcott Parsons (1902-1979)-
Society is a system that is made up of interrelated institutions, which contributed to the smooth running and continuity.
The main role of the institution is to socialise individuals and ensure that they understood the underlying values of their society and behaved in the acceptable ways.
This is ensured that there was order in society.
George Murdock (1897-1985), in his classic 1949 study of the family, examined over 250 communities, raning from small hunter-getherer communities to large industrialised societies and found some form of the family in all of them. Murdock claimed that in all societies the family had four functions:
The sexual function
The reproduction function
The economic function
Talcott Parsons (1951), argued that the family had two 'basic and irreducible' functions:
George Murdock
The primary socilaisation of children
The stabalisation of adult personatlities
Functionalism -
Value Consensus -
A Sociological approach that sees the institutions of society as working in harmony with each other, making specific and clear contributions to the smooth running of society.
A general agreement as to the values and beliefs of a society
Criticisms of functionalism
It does not address areas of conflict
It is based on the idea that in all socities' members share some basic values and beliefs.
Functionalists are also very clear that the way we behave is a direct result of the socialisation process and that very little of our behaviour is the reslut of our personal choices.
Bourgeoise -
The powerful social class, who own factories, land and other capitol and are able to organise the economy and other important social institutions to their own advantage.
Capitalist -
Another world for a member of the Bourgeoise
Proletrait -
The 'working class', who only have their labour to sell, They work for and are exploited by the bourgoisie.
False Consciousness -
Is the taking on, by the proletarait, of the views and the beliefs of their class enemy. They do not realise that, by working hard, they are serving the interests of the capitolist more than their own.
Karl Marx (1818-1883) thought individual behaviour was shaped by society but he believed that the economic system defined society and the people's place within it. He held the view that in the industrial society of his time there were two social classes the bourgeoisie/ capitalist and the poletariat.
His view was that these social class groups wouyld always be in conflict: the owners of the factories , land and offices would want high profits; and the employees would want higher wages, which would always eat into the profits.
He thought that this conflict would lead to revlotution.
Marxists have a structured perspective. They see the famil as contributing to a stable social system and would regard the family as a servant of the capitalist system. They believe that iot provides the context for the socialisation of children, preparing them for the disciplines and routines of work. Just as children have limited power in the family, so people are prepared to be obedient to their bosses at work as adults.
As a servant of the capitalists, the ordered family is necessary for passing on inheritance. Children born within the nuclear family are the rightful inheritors of the family's wealth.
Critisms of Marxism
They believe that individual behaviour is the direct result of socialisation process, with very little choice. In the case of Marxist theorists, however, it is socialisation that meets the values and interests of the ruling classes.
They put too much emphasis on different class interests and potential conflicts of interests.
Some writers believe that the Marxist model, which sees the economy as the institution that drives all others, does not give sufficient emphasis to the power of the institutions - religion, race and family life- in moulding our behaviour.
Marxist Feminism
Marxist feminists see women, especially the working class, as oppressed both by capitolism and by men or the patriarchal society. Women produce the next generation of workers. they meet physical, soical and emotional needs of their children so that they are ready to work in the offices and factories of the future. They also have top support their husbands and partners, make meals, care for their children and clean their house all for nothing. THe family would not be ready for work if there wasn't anyone there to take responsibility for the domestic life and this, it is argued, remains primary responsiblity.
Radical Feminism
To radical feminists it is not capitolism that dominates women but men. THe family is seen as a patriachal institution. They see socialisation of women as housewives and as mothers, as a from of oppression and this oppression as a characteristic of nuclear family life.
Liberal Feminism
Liberal feminists would argue that changes have taken place. They believe that changing attitudes and legislation, like the Equal Pay ACt (1970) and the Sex Discrimination Act (1975), there is more equality between men and women. Liberal feminists believe that improvements will continue to be made by means of legislation and policy.
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