Talcott Parsons adopts a functionalist perspective when writing about the family, where he focuses on the functions of the family in the society, as well as the functionality of the members of the family as a unit. In his argument, Parsons identifies two functions, which are…
This setting leads to some changes in the structure of the family, thereby affecting the functional aspect of it.
In industrial societies, Parsons posits that the norm in industrialized societies includes nuclear families that have taken the form of a modified extended family (Janssens 2003, 85). This means that in industrialized societies, the nuclear family might not retain some of the contacts with their wider kin, thereby adopting an independent position in their kinship network. For this reason, the nuclear family structure, according to Parsons, is responsive to the need of industrialized societies. Contrary to the functions of the extended family in a pre-industrialized society, the functions of the nuclear family were reduced due to the emergence of different specialized institutions such as hospitals, schools, the churches and the media, among other institutions. These institutions have taken over some of the roles that carried out by families in the past, or pre-industrialized societies. For this reason, there is a reduction in the family size since they have fewer roles for their sustenance, which means that status in the family is not ascribed but achieved. He also indicates that labor demands across the geographical sphere enhance the mobility of the family, which is a factor that meets some of the demands in the industrial society.
Parson’s functionalist approach tries to identify some f the roles that the family performs for the reason of maintaining stability and order in the society. However, it would be vital to criticize Parson’s functionalist perspective of the family since he does not provide alternatives to the functions of the family (Vannoy 1998, 34). In this case, Parsons does not consider some of the other institutions that can be able to perform some of the functions that were previously performed by the family in pre-industrialized societies. The other reason for criticizing the Parson’s ...
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