This essay stresses that the family is the basic social unit. Sociologists consider the family as the basic social unit. As the basic social unit, the family is a key agent of socialization responsible for the emergence of personality traits, allocation of designed social roles and development of behavior through nurturance. Emergence of personality traits occurs through indoctrination of norms, cultural beliefs and practices that are deemed suitable depending on the gender of the person in question. Family comes with responsibility and hence by virtue of being part of a family, every member has a designated role to play depending on one’s ability and position. Designation of roles within the family remains a controversial issue in sociology today as it was in the dawn of feminism in the 20th century. In the traditional model of the family, there are certain roles that are deemed appropriate for each family member depending on culture, beliefs and traditions as well as specialization and interdependence.
This paper makes a conclusion that the Marxist approach to the social issue of roles within the family differs significantly with that of Emile Durkheim. The Marxist school of thought envisages the family as having a high conflict quotient that leads to inequitable division of labor due to perceived masculine superiority through which women remain marginalized. According to Karl Marx, roles are specially designed to facilitate the growth and domination of capitalism by exploiting women by subjecting them to cheap or free domestic labor while men work in the corporate world. The goal is to establish a structural imbalance of power to limit the productivity of the marginalized section of the society. Durkheim, on the other hand, adopts a functionalist view highlighting solidarity and social harmony as the basis for role designation with the family. Unlike Marx, Durkheim believes that role designation within the family are based on mechanical and organic integration such that family members assume roles based on specialization and capacity to deliver. He dismisses Marx’s viewpoint as a conspiracy theory to discredit capitalism and liberalization of the market economy. Family Sociologists consider the family as the basic social unit. As the basic social unit, the family is a key agent of socialization responsible for the emergence of personality traits, allocation of designed social roles and development of behavior through nurturance. In essence, the family comprises a network of individuals related by blood, marriage or connected through adoption either living together under one roof or sharing close personal ties with each other. The convention family i.e. nuclear family comprises parents and their offspring while the extended family widens to include other family members in close kinship ties to a certain degree of consanguinity (Beck, 1992). The family unit is perhaps the most complex and dynamic institutions in the society. As a social unit, the family has undergone significant evolution in terms of meaning, structure, composition and role designation. Sources retrieved from the annals of Stanford University’s Department of Sociology indicate that the rapid structural transformation of the family results from the dynamic nature of the society as well as cultural considerations. The emergence of the contemporary quasi-family model comprising mostly of unconventional non-marital cohabitation for instance, is gradually replacing the conventional nuclear family model (Inglehart and Norris, 2003). Issue of Roles within the Family Family comes with responsibility. People should know that by virtue of being part of a family, every member has a designated role to play depending on one’s ability and position. In most traditional societies, the role of the father is to provide for the family. Providing for the family in this case means securing the wellbeing of all