Variety Of Changes In The Family Structure

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Variety of Changes in the Family Structure


In the United States today it seems that there is a predominately functionalistic view of the family. These functionalistic views of the family are also seen as the root of many of societies' problems (i.e. crime rate, economy, education, etc.). It has been proposed, throughout politics and various other organizations, that a return to a more stable family structure is the solution to many of societies problems. I do not believe that this position is necessarily the correct one. This paper seeks to define the broad tapestry constituting "family" at this moment and how the diverse elements play out on society at large. It also illustrates the challenges being faced because of the changes in family structure. It focuses on the composition of the American family, the changing roles and responsibilities of parents and the impact of an evolving workplace on family life as seen through the functionalist's perspective. Functionalists believe that the basis of an orderly society is the existence of a central value system that imposes common values on all its members. Therefore, when Functionalists look at the ways in which the various parts of families contribute to bringing about social order they are mainly concerned with the ways in which these parts help to perpetuate and maintain this common value system. "The importance of the family and its function for society constitutes the primary set of reasons why there is a social as distinguished from purely reproductive differentiation of sex roles." (Parsons, p.22)

Theories Related to Family Structures

Families are the bedrock of all societies. They can comprise anywhere from a small group to scores of individuals, and range from simple structures such as a married couple and one child under one roof to intricately complex, multigenerational combinations, living in one or more households. Invariably, as a society evolves, so does the family structure. With the modification of other factors for example, life expectancy, or attitudes towards adoption the impact on the family is telling. The traditional structure of the American family (mother, father and children) continues to prevail for the most part as a new century unfolds. Yet, over the past several decades, U.S. society has witnessed an evolution in family structure and daily life in many respects, because of a myriad of factors, ranging from advancements in science to the composition of the workplace. Single parenthood, adoptive households, step parenting, stay-at-home fathers, grandparents raising children are but a few of the newer tiles in the mosaic.

Functionalist Theory

Functionalist theory asserts that there will be a specific pattern of family organization corresponding to different types of society. Hence there is a particular family form that best suits the conditions of industrial society. Functionalist thinks that the family has functions to carry out for society and individuals; these are divided into 'essential' and 'non-essential'. For society, the main function is pattern maintenance while for individuals; it is the stabilization of the adult personality and the socialization of children. "The functions of the family in a ...
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