Assess the Contribution of Feminist Sociologists to an Understanding of the Function of the Family

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Feminists’ argued that gender roles were created by men for their benefit, and they described this type of society as “patriarchal”.They argued the nuclear family performed two key functions which oppressed women a) the family socialised girls to accept subservient roles within the family, whilst socialising boys to believe they were superior – this happens through children witnessing then recreating the parental relationship; and b) it socialised women into accepting the “housewife” role as the only acceptable role for a women. Essentially, feminists viewed the function of the family as a breeding ground where patriarchal values were learned by an individual, which in turn created a patriarchal society. I will use different types of Feminism to explain their understanding of the family .

The first type is Liberal Feminists. They believe in a “March of Progress” view of the family. This means that they believe that the family is gradually changing for the better over time by becoming more democratic and more equal. They also argue that men and females share democratic labour ( i.e childcare, cleaning the house). Liberal Feminist believe this happened thanks to new law reforms such as the Divorce Act 1969 and Equal Pay Act 1972. Jennifer Somerville believes that women are still disadvantaged in families . She criticises radical and marxist feminists for failing to accept that progress has been made in some ways. However Marxist Feminist criticise against this by saying that women still do the majority of housework and childcare. Radical Feminist instead argue that Women are still likely to be the victims of domestic violence.

The second type is Marxist Feminists which see women as an essential instrument of capitalist oppression. They argue that women reproduce the workforce ( i.e. having babies is a key thing for women in a family according to…...

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