Modern Family and the Conflict Theory

5 May 2017

Discuss the extent to which the role of the family in modern society can be explained by the conflict approach. The conflict theory is a Marxist perspective; they believe that the different classes within society create a divide with the powerful, wealthy ruling class exploiting the poor, working class. They argue that the modern family is the main reason for this and so it is a bad thing for society. Karl Marx identified three ways in which the family unit benefits the capitalist society.

One of these is that it performs important ideological functions for capitalist ociety and this is the socialisation of children. This is seen as benefiting capitalism because children are taught from a young age to obey their parents’ which is preparing them for later life, obeying their bosses. They are also socialised to accept the fact that inequality is inevitable and they stay in the class which they are prescribed at birth.

Modern Family and the Conflict Theory Essay Example

However, Functionalists contradict this idea as they believe that the nuclear family is socially mobile and they don’t have to stay within the class they are prescribed at birth. Another way in which Marxists see the family as benefiting the capitalist society is hat it is a unit of consumption as families are an important source of profit for big businesses. The goods and services which are produced by the working class are sold for higher profits than they are paid for producing them.

Also the children contribute to this through pester power. Inheritance of property benefits capitalism through the family unit because land and businesses are passed down through the family, maintaining the divide between the bourgeoisies and the proletariats. This was brought about along with monogamy because of the development in increased wealth in society so the men had to be sure hat the children were theirs so they could pass their wealth down to appropriate heirs.

Marxists also think that the nuclear family only fits into society because it is forced to in order to meet the economic needs, contrary to what Functionalists argue, that family fits harmoniously together for society. Zaretsk says that capitalism depends on housewives doing unpaid housework and raising babies to become the future work force and Marxist feminists would agree with this view as they believe that women are a reserve army of labour as they are taken on in times of need but then sacked when they are no longer needed and this s negative for society because it promotes inequality but capitalism enthuses it.

However a great criticism of the Marxist perspective is that the majority of the research carried out by Karl Marx is out dated and lacks temporal validity as it was done over 100 years ago and it is argued that we live in a different society today so it is questionable whether his theory still fits modern society. Feminists argue that modern society is extremely hierarchical and that women are oppressed by men. Radical feminists feel that the family is an institute in which omen are dominated and exploited by men and that it is difficult for them to escape their husband’s dominance because of economic restraints.

However this is no longer applicable due to the welfare state which provides financial support. Ditterent teminists disagree with this and argue at tn ditterent women nave ditterent experiences with the family and that you cannot generalise all women’s experiences. In conclusion the Marxist and Feminists believe that the family unit is harmful to society because it is full of inequality and exploitation and that society isn’t based around the family but instead the family is built around society.

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