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 society 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. 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 that 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 that 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...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document