Social Institution

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“A family can be defined as a set of people related by blood, marriage or in some other agreed upon relationship, or adoption, who share primary responsibility for reproduction and caring for member of society". (Schaefer, 2009, p. 288) This leads to a wide open range of interpretation on the exact definition of how a family is truly made up. Depending on your culture, religion, or geographical location a family may represent and be comprised of many different ideals and social norms. There are many theoretical perspectives that have their own interpretations on the subject of what a family is and how it is perceived. I will attempt to expound on three of these perspectives; Functionalism, Conflict, and Interactionalism.

The family is a societal institution which initiates the positive and negative process of social interactions between people. Over the last few decades what constitutes the family has changed all over the world. Family in today’s environment is diverse in nature and may go beyond the scope of parents and children. Families can consist of variations in relationships such as close relatives, stepparents, half siblings and extended non-biological family members. Normally, immediate family members live in the same house, nearby, until the child reaches a specified age and maturity to go into the world and start their own family. Most often members of the families have intimate and personal relationships with each other. Within the family there is a continuation of social interactions between members that can influence and shape peoples responses and reactions to their larger societies.

Talcott Parson (1902-1979), a prominent sociologist from Harvard University, is accredited as the key figur...

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...unctionalism provides a positive platform for viewing society; although interactionism does a nice job as well. The conflict theory is very negative and cynical in its view of society. Conflict is assumed and little energy is devoted to solving it because the underlying assumption is that it is an expected constant. Interactionism can be extremely positive if helpful strategies have been learned that can be used in interactions with others. However, it can be negative if individuals are locked into their personal views. Additionally, in contrast to functionalism and conflict perspectives that study society on a macro-sociological level, interactionists employ micro-sociology (Schaefer, 2009). Evaluating the family from various sociological viewpoints gives insight into the development of socialization within the familial framework and society at large.
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