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Introduction to Sociology

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Introduction to Sociology ­ SOC101
VU
Lesson 28
FUNCTIONS OF FAMILY
Structural-Functionalists suggest that family performs several vital functions. In fact in this perspective
family has been considered as "The backbone of society". At the same time the social conflict paradigm
considers the family central to the operations of society, but rather than focusing on societal benefits,
conflict theorists investigate how the family perpetuates social inequality. The important functions are:
1.
Regulation of sexual activity. Every culture regulates sexual activity in the interest of
maintaining kinship organization and property rights. One universal regulation is the incest
taboo, a cultural norm forbidding sexual relations or marriage between certain kin. Precisely which kin fall
within the incest taboo varies from one culture to another. Mostly marriage with close relatives
like parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, is prohibited.
The incest taboo may have medical explanations as reproduction between close relatives of any species can
mentally and physically impair off springs. Yet it has social reasons. First the incest taboo minimizes sexual
competition within families by restricting legitimate sexuality to spouses. Second incest taboo forces people
to marry themselves outside their immediate families, which serve the purpose of integrating the larger
society. Third, since kinship defines people's rights and obligations towards each other, reproduction among
close relatives would hopelessly confuse kinship ties and threaten social order.
2.
Reproduction. Perhaps the only function that seems to have been left to a great extent
untouched is reproduction. Without reproduction the continuation of society is at stake and
the legitimate births take place only within the wedlock. Yet even this vital and inviolable
function has not gone unchallenged. A prime example is the number of single women in the
Western society who have children (about one third of all births in US).
3.
Socialization of children. The family is the first and most influential setting for socialization.
Ideally the parents teach children to be well-integrated and participating members of society. In
fact, family socialization continues throughout life cycle. Adults change within marriage, and, as
any parent knows, mothers and fathers learn as much from raising their children as their
children learn from them.
The conflict sociologists try to find fault with the outcome of this socialization through which there is likely
to be the transmission of cultural values. There is the continuity of patriarchy, which subordinates women
to men. Families therefore transform women into the sexual and economic property of men. Most wives'
earnings belong to their husbands.
4.
Social placement. Parents confer their own social identity ­ in terms of race, ethnicity,
religion, and social class ­ on children at birth. This fact explains the long-standing preference
for birth to married parents. This is more like ascription of social status to the children,
Nevertheless, racial and ethnic categories shall persist over generations only to the degree that people marry
others like themselves. Thus endogamous marriage shores up the racial and ethnic hierarchy of a society.
Conflict sociologists traced the origin of the family to the need to identify heirs so that men (especially in
the higher classes) could transmit property to their sons. Families thus support the concentration of wealth
and reproduce the class structure in each succeeding generation. Therefore family plays an important
function in maintaining social inequality; hence it is a part and parcel of capitalism.
5.
Care of the sick and elderly. Family has been a big insurance against the old age as well as
during sickness. As the society moves towards the industrialization this function is likely to be
taken over by institutionalized medicine and medical specialists. Care of the aged is likely to
change from a family concern to a government obligation. In Pakistani society, by and large, it
remains to be an important function of the family.
68
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Introduction to Sociology ­ SOC101
VU
6.
Protective function. Family provides some degree of physical, economic, and psychological
security to its members. Attack on a person is considered to be an attack on the family.
Similarly guilt and shame are equally shared by the family. People view the family as a "haven in
the heartless world", looking to kin for physical protection, emotional support, and financial
assistance. People living in families tend to be healthier than living alone.
7.
Economic production. Prior to industrialization, the family constituted an economic team.
Family members cooperated in producing what they needed to survive. When industrialization
moved production from home to factory, it disrupted this family team and weakened the bonds
that tied family members together. In Pakistan family still performs an important function at
least in helping its members in establishing their careers and obtaining jobs.
69
Table of Contents:
  1. THE ORIGINS OF SOCIOLOGY:Auguste Comte, The Fields of Sociology
  2. THE SOCIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE:Society affects what we do
  3. THEORETICAL PARADIGMS:Salient Paradigms, Critical Evaluation
  4. SOCIOLOGY AS SCIENCE:Empirical, Verifiable, Cumulative, Self-Correcting
  5. STEPS IN SOCIOLOGICAL INVESTIGATION:Exploration/Consultation
  6. SOCIAL INTERACTION:Social Status, ROLE, The Social Construction of Reality
  7. SOCIAL GROUPS:Primary and Secondary Groups, Reference Group, Networks
  8. ORGANIZATIONS:Utilitarian Organizations, Coercive Organizations
  9. CULTURE:Universality, Components of Culture, Symbols, Language
  10. CULTURE (continued):Beliefs, Norms, Cultural Diversity
  11. CULTURE (continued):Culture by social class, Multiculturalism, Cultural Lag
  12. SOCIALIZATION: HUMAN DEVELOPMENT, NATURE, Social Isolation
  13. UNDERSTANDING THE SOCIALIZATION PROCESS
  14. AGENTS OF SOCIALIZATION:The Family, The School, Peer Groups, The Mass Media
  15. SOCIALIZATION AND THE LIFE COURSE:CHILDHOOD, ADOLESCENCE
  16. SOCIAL CONTROL AND DEVIANCE:Crime, Deviants, Stigma, Labeling
  17. THE SOCIAL FOUNDATIONS OF DEVIANCE:Cultural relativity of deviance
  18. EXPLANATIONS OF CRIME:Sociological explanations
  19. EXPLANATIONS OF CRIME -- CONTINUED:White-Collar Crime, Conflict Theory
  20. SOCIAL DISTRIBUTION OF CRIME: EXPLANATIONS, Gender and Crime
  21. SOCIAL STRATIFICATION: INTRODUCTION AND SIGNIFICANCE
  22. THEORIES OF CLASS AND STRATIFICATION I:Critical evaluation
  23. THEORIES OF SOCIAL CLASS AND STRATIFICATION II
  24. THEORIES OF CLASS AND SOCIAL STRATIFICATION III
  25. SOCIAL CLASS AS SUBCULTURE
  26. SOCIAL MOBILITY:Structural factors, Individual factors, Costs
  27. THE FAMILY: GLOBAL VARIETY, Marriage Patterns, Patterns of Descent
  28. FUNCTIONS OF FAMILY:Reproduction, Social placement
  29. FAMILY AND MARRIAGE IN TRANSITION:Family is losing functions
  30. GENDER: A SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION, Gender socialization
  31. GENDER SOCIALIZATION:Role of family, Gender Stratification
  32. EXPLANATIONS OF GENDER INEQUALITY:Conflict Explanations, Feminism
  33. FUNCTIONS OF SCHOOLING:Cultural Innovation, School Tracking
  34. ISSUES IN EDUCATION:Low Enrollment, High Dropout, Gender Disparity
  35. POPULATION STUDY AND ITS SIGNIFICANCE:Crude Birth Rate
  36. THEORY OF POPULATION GROWTH:Theory of Demographic Transition
  37. POPULATION PROFILE OF PAKISTAN:World Population Growth
  38. POPULATION PROFILE OF PAKISTAN (Continued):Age Distribution, Sex Composition
  39. IMPLICAIONS OF POPULATION GOWTH:Additional GDP needed per year
  40. POPULATION POLICY:Goals of Population Policy, Objectives, Strategies
  41. ENVIRONMENT AND SOCIETY:Global Dimension, Historical Dimension
  42. ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES:Preserving Clean Water, Clearing the Air
  43. SOCIAL CHANGE:Social change is controversial.
  44. CAUSES OF SOCIAL CHANGE:Culture and Change, Conflict and Change, Modernization
  45. MODERNITY AND POST MODERNITY:Cultural Patterns, Post-modernity