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Examine Marxist Views of the Role of the Family.

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Examine Marxist views of the role of the family. (24 marks)

Marxist sociologists believe that the family is shaped by the requirements of capitalism and serves to support and maintain this unjust and exploitative system. They believe that the family exists to reproduce labour power, to consume the products of capitalism and to provide emotional support for workers to help them cope with the harsh reality and to accept their inequalities. Engels, a Marxist sociologist, believes that family was only needed when private property emerged and that monogamous families were a means of passing on private property to heirs as they provided proof of paternity. Zaretsky, another Marxist sociologist, supported Engels’ theory but also believed that family helps workers to live with their oppression by giving them a measure of control over their own lives. Functionalism is similar to Marxism as they are both macro-theories which means they look at society as a whole rather than at specifically one aspect. They are also both structural theories which means that they view the family as part of a system and that people are products of this system. However, functionalism differs to Marxism as functionalists believe that the family works harmoniously and that value consensus exists within society whereas Marxists believe that conflicting views are normal. Functionalists also believe that the family benefits everyone in society whilst Marxists believe the family only benefits the bourgeoisie and capitalism. Another difference between the two is that functionalists believe that the passing on of norms and values throughout the generations is a positive thing in comparison to Marxists who believe this is negative as it spreads a bourgeoisie ideology and oppresses the working class.
Engels, 1884, believed that the concept of family changes in conformity to the mode of product.…...

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