Sociological Theories and the Family Essay

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This paper will examine sociological theories and how they relate to the social institution of the family. We typically view society as a group of people, but in sociology, society is not a group of people but a social organization. People are molded by society to fit within the accepted societal bounds. Society must be understood using “the meanings that people put on their values and beliefs” (Bartle, 2010). Within sociology there are three major perspectives. These are the Functionalist, Conflict and Interactionist Perspectives. Each perspective views society in different manners, with each being correct and relevant since social institutions are too complex to be defined by any one theory. Each perspective will be used to explain the perspectives’ relevance to the family.
The sociological definition of the family is “a set of people related by blood, marriage or some other agreed-upon relationship, or adoption, who share the primary responsibility for reproduction and caring for members of society” (Schaeffer, 2009, p. 288). While the nuclear family (a man, a woman, and their children) was once the primary definition of family, now it refers to many familial configurations. Single-parent families, blended families, same-sex couples, traditional nuclear families and single-parents who have adopted are just a few of the configurations that society in general now views as a family. A healthy family will provide a place of unconditional love, acceptance and support.
The functionalist perspective views society as a living organism or a mechanical entity. Primitive societies where everyone performs similar tasks, demonstrates mechanical cohesion. In modern societies, many different tasks are performed by the members, sim...

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Bryant, J., Claridge, M., Fursman, L., Jacobsen, V., & Jensen, B. (2004, March). Theories of the Family and Policy. Retrieved February 27, 2011, from New Zealand Treasury:
Gabler, J. (2010). Sociology for Dummies. Indianapolis, Indiana: Wiley Publishing, Inc.
Hughes, M., Kroehler, C., & Vander Sanden, J. (2001). Sociology: The Core (Sixth ed.). New York, NY: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Schaeffer, R. T. (2009). Sociology: A Brief Introduction. (8th, Ed.) New York, NY: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Valiante, W. C. (2005, February 4). Worth Repeating: It's the clash of families, not civilizations... Retrieved February 27, 2011, from Media Monitors Network:

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