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June 27, 2008 / C H Thompson

Functions of the family (part 2)

However For Parsons (1951) the function of the family has changed and now only has two basic functions of :

  • primary socialisation of children
  • stabilisation of adult personalities

Primary socialisation is the socialisation which occurs during the early years of childhood. During the process of socialisation a child’s personality is moulded so that the core values of the society it’s immersed in become part of that child. Parsons argued families act like factories with the processes and systems available to it to continually ‘reproduce human personalities’ in a warm secure environment.

Stabilisation of adult personalities emphasises the emotional security found within marital relationships This acts to balance out the stresses and strains of everyday life faced by most adults. In addition the function of the family is to allow adults to ‘act out’ the ‘childish’ dimension of their personality by playing with their children, using their toys etc.

The stabilisation of adult personalities is also aided by the sexual division of labour within particularly as the family is an isolated nuclear unit. Within the isolated nuclear family members are allocated particular roles (role allocation) in order for it function correctly. The sexual division of labour  achieves these ends. By identifying two distinct roles for the husband and wife within the family this structure  stabilises family members allowing the family to function.

For Parsons’ women’s role in the family is an ‘expressive role’. What he meant by this is a woman’s familial role is to provide care, love, affection, security and all the necessary emotional support a family member might need.

In contrast for Parsons’ men have an ‘instrumental role’ as the bread winner. Such a role is very arduous and is such a stressful, anxious challenge that it can cause men to breakdown. Therefore a woman’s function is to relieve this burden or tension from the men’s shoulders by providing love and understanding as well as continuing to be the primary carer irrespective of their own circumstances.

Therefore the sexual division of labour is about men and women having ‘expressive’ and ‘instrumental’ roles in the family so that it functions correctly.

The best way to understand Parson’s view is to imagine living in the ideal family as similar to entering a warm bath. Indeed it’s useful to understand Parson’s view of family life as being a ‘warm bath theory.

As industrialisation grew kinship-based society broke-up which had a direct impact on family structures. Out went the classic extended family and in came the ‘isolated nuclear family’ as a ‘productive unit’.

The termed ‘isolated’ comes from functionalist Talcott Parsons who identified the families in modern industrial society as being isolated nuclear families because they’re no longer connected to wider kinship relations.

Criticisms of Murdock and Parsons

Test your knowledge of this section test-knowledge-3

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34 Comments

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  1. Natalie Acreman / Sep 23 2008 4:28 pm

    Warm Bath Theory

    Parsons compared the family institution to a warm bath because you can sink into it after a hard days work as you would sink into bath. The husband worries about work and money and so the family is washing away his troubles so that he is refreshed and ready for the next day at work where he is able to contribute to society. Also because the family is a social space which you can relax in and take away the stress, strains and tensions of modern living. It provides you with a sense of emotional security and safety.

  2. Alice Prichard / Sep 23 2008 5:02 pm

    Why do you think Parson’s used the analogy of a ‘warm bath’ to describe his theory?

    He describes the family as a warm bath in which an individual relaxes into after a long day at work. It is the social space that relaxes you and where you can ease away your stress. The family supplies you with emotional security and safety.

  3. Sam Dallimore / Sep 24 2008 2:37 pm

    Part One
    Parson’s view family life as a “warm bath” metaphorically speaking family life should be nice, relaxing. home should be a safe place, away from the stresses of work. With in the family there are gendered roles the “Dad” has the “instrumental roles” being the “breadwinner” and the “Mother” has the “expressive roles” she is “affectionate”, “caring” etc.
    Murdoch sees the family as a key role in society, he sees the family as part of the social body, with out the family, the social body will be useless.

    Part Two
    The aspect of family life that Murdoch and Parsons is missing is the fact that, families don’t always get on all the time, there will be arguments between the parents about who’s going to take the rubbish out and things. Family isnt always a “warm bath” like Parsons suggests.

  4. stuart bullard / Sep 24 2008 4:16 pm

    Parson’s and Murdoch’s view on the family is that each part of the family has it’s role to keep the family working and with that keep society working.

  5. stuart bullard / Sep 24 2008 4:17 pm

    They might be ignoring the role of extended family members as there is little said on what role they have.

  6. Natalie Acreman / Sep 24 2008 4:53 pm

    How would you summarise Murdoch and Parsons’ view family life?

    Murdoch views family as universal and inevitable as no society has a substitute for the family. He concluded the ‘nuclear family’ is the ideal model and this model achieves four distinct functions which are sexual, reproduction, socialisation and economic.
    Parsons views the family as a primary agent in the socialisation of the children, by teaching them in a warm secure environment. A key part of this socialisation is the family being sexually divided, so that the mother has an ‘expressive’ role and acts as the carer of the family whilst the father has an instrumental role and acts as the bread winner to whom the woman provides love and understanding. The family is an ideal institution (warm bath).

    What aspect of family life might Murdoch and Parsons be ignoring?

    Murdoch and Parsons are ignoring the fact hat not all families are actually like this. Not every family is a nuclear family (1adult male and female and 1 or more children) and more and more we are seeing reconstituted (a family made out of another relationship) and extended families (a family where relatives live in addition to a nuclear family). Also Parsons in particular with his ‘warm bath’ theory is missing that not everyone wants to back to there family after a stressful day because maybe this would make them worse. This could be because of family disagreement, fighting or just not getting along with the rest of the family.

  7. Lucy Kelly / Sep 24 2008 7:51 pm

    How would you summarise Murdoch and Parsons’ view family life?

    Murdoch and Parsons’ view family life like as having key roles. These a gendered, split into male and female. Each gender has a particular role, almost sterotypical to what they should be doing. They say that family plays a key role in teaching children right and wrong, also they believe that family is the primary agent for socialistion and it does this by teahcing children what society expects of them in a warm and serve environement. Parsons beliebves that the womens role is ‘expressive role’, what he means by this si that the womes role is to provide care, love, affection, secruity and all the necessaru support a family member may need. In contrast to this parsons’ describes the role men have as ‘Instrumental’ or the breadwinner. Basically to go out to work and provide for the family. When they get home the women relieves all the tension and stress of the mans shoulders by providing them with love and understanding. Parson’s also describes the family like a ‘warm bath’ because the family is a safe heaven from everyday problems life delivers.

    What aspect of family life might Murdoch and Parsons be ignoring?

    I think that the aspect of family life Murdoch is ignoring is parents that have split up. In this case the mum will have to go out to work aswel to provide for the family. Therefore she might not have as much spare time on her hand sto look after her children. She is also the bread winner in this case because she has to earn the money herself. Another point is that the mother might not have as much free time on her hands to relax as she is out at work all ay then comes in and has to cook, clean and lok after the children.

  8. Sam Tardif / Sep 25 2008 8:33 am

    How would you summarize Murdoch and Parsons view of family life?
    Murdoch and Parsons’ view of family like is one that is gender split (sexual division of labour) and one that beleives that the family is the key role for primary socialisation on a child.
    The gendered split is what the role of the mother and father have to do for the family. The fathers case (the instrumental role) his role is to be the breadwinner, to provide for his family, this can be a very ardious and fistrating task, so it is the womens role (the expressive role) to make sure that everything is dealt with at home and provide love and affection for the father to take the fustration off his shoulders. This is what the “Warm bath theory” is about. Once the father comes home it is like slipping into a warm bath because its comforting and secure. The family has a key role in socialisation for the children who teach them right and wrong and life skills.

    What aspect of family life might Murdoch and Parsons be ignoring?
    They are ignoring the obvious ussue of divorce or any other reason why the mother and father arent together. In this case then one of the parents will have to do the work of both of them. So the mother will have to do work for a change and the father will have to look after the house more and have a more active role in the raising of the kids.

  9. Georgia Seago / Sep 25 2008 4:11 pm

    How would you summarise Murdoch and Parsons’ views on family life?

    Both Murdoch and Parson’s saw family life as simple and well-rounded. The sterotypical nuclear family that they observed included clear, gendered roles that were divided between the male and female, although not always equally. The father in the family was the “breadwinner”. He worked hard every day to bring in an income for the family. The mother was the carer. She stayed at home every day to look after the children, do the household chores and then see to her husband’s every need once he came home from work. Parsons’ illustrated his beliefs by creating the “warm bath” theory. It describes the family as a warm bath that comforts and cares for you once you emerge yourself in it.

    What aspect of family life might Murdoch and Parsons’ be ignoring?

    Murdoch and Parsons’ completly overlooked the single parent family. Even in the forties and fifties when they made thier observations, couples would have been breaking up and divorcing even though it wasn’t as common then as it is now. In this situation either the mother or father would have to take on both the “expressive role” and the “instrumental role”. They would have to ensure that the children were being cared for whilst seeing to the household chores and making a living to be able to provide for themselves and the children.

  10. Adam Fox / Sep 25 2008 5:12 pm

    How would you summarise Murdoch and Parsons’ view on family life?

    Murdoch and Parson view family in a functionalist way. Murdoch believes that the family is a key element to the ‘social body’ meaning that everything relies on everything else to succeed. The family is, for example, the lungs of the ‘social body’ without the lungs the body will not be able to function. Parsons believes that the family plays a key role in teaching children social skills and learning wrong from right. There are also segregated roles within the family. The gender roles separate the father and the mother. The father is seen to have an instrumental role and to go out and earn the money and bring it home to the family. ‘Breadwinner’. The mother is seen to have an expressive role and provide support for her family. She is also expected to provide emotional support for the father after a stressful day at work. Parson describes the family as a ‘warm bath’ meaning that when members of the family are spending time together, they are in a warm and safe atmosphere. A soothing atmosphere from the stress’s of the cold outside world. It is a safe shelter from life’s troubles.

    What aspect of family life might Murdoch and Parsons be ignoring?

    Murdoch and parsons are ignoring other types of family and only focusing on the nuclear family. These single parents family have always been common. For a single parent family, the mother or father will have to provide for both the expressive and instrumental roles. They will always be busy working to provide money and also supporting their family.

  11. Rachel Nethersole / Sep 25 2008 6:53 pm

    how would you summarise Murdoch and Parsons’ view on family life?

    Both Murdoch and Pasons are functionalists. They both believe that the family is the primary agent of socialisation. Murdoch believed that a ‘nuclear family’ is the ideal family, and that the family is intefral to the functioning of the social body. This means that the family is a functional prerequiste in the socail body, and without it the the social body would fail.
    Parsons believes that the family is a key role in teaching children what is right and wrong, and therefore socialising them, and teaching them what is expected of them in society. They both believe that the family is needed for four things. Sexual, Reproduction, Socialisation and Economic. This shows that the family, especially a nuclear family, is vital for the right upbringing of children, so that they are able to socialise in the future. They also believ that it is very much a gendered role. The male in the family, is the ‘breadwinner’. He is the one who goes out to work. Whereas the female is the ‘expressive role’ she stays at home to look after the kids, and the house.

    what aspect of family life might Murdoch and Parsons be ignoring?

    Murdoch and parsons are ignorning the other types of family, such as reconstituted and single parent familys. These types of familys have always been around, and they are also able to provide the same attention to the family as a nuclear family can. Single parent familys undoubtibly have the harder job, but they can still socialise their children in the same way. The single parent will have to work to provide for the family and care for them at home, but it can be done. Parsons and Murdoch have ignored these familys as the functionalsist dont see it as right, and that the nuclear family is the proper family. However we know that a reconstituted family or single parent familys are often more common then nuclear familys.

  12. Chelsie Kelly / Sep 25 2008 7:02 pm

    How would you summarise Murdoch and Parson’s view on family life?

    Murdoch and Parsons’ are both functionalists, therefore viewing the family in a functionalist way. eventhough they are both functionalists, they both have different views. Murdoch considers the family to be a ‘social body’ in society. the family is like a major organ in society, if that were to fail, all of society would fail. he made his view in 1940.
    He presented the view that the family is to socialise children and has four main functions. These are: reproduction, sexual activity, economy and socialisation.
    Parsons, said that the family plays an instrumental role in the family and therefore is the main agent of socialisation, or primary sociolisation. he believes that in the family should have a sexual division of labour. the women have an expressive role, meaning that she should care, love and provide affection care and everything that a family member will need.
    whereas the mean have an instrumental role and are the breadwinner of the family. they deal with a huge amount of stress, so they go home and the women relieve the stress by providing love, care and affection. he compared the family to a warm bath, called the warm bath hypothesis. this means that a man stepping into the home at the end of a hrd day is like stepping into a warm bath, is relaxes him and makes him forget about the stress and hard work of the day.

    What aspect of family life might Murdoch and Parsons be ignoring?

    the aspect of family life that they might be ignoring is the single parent family. single parents families have only been properly acceptable in society recently, but have always been around. The single parent has to adopt both the instrumental and expressive role of the family and cannot create a warm bath atmosphere if they are out working all day. they have to cook, clean, provide love and care and still be the breadwinner.
    also, changes in society means that women can now earn money and can also be the breadwinner, although this is rare due to the glass ceiling that women have, it still happens and the roles can now be reversed and the man can adopt the expressive role within the family.

  13. Becky Smith / Sep 25 2008 8:05 pm

    how would you summarise Murdoch and Parsons’ view family life?

    Murdoch and Parsons both have a functionalist view of family life. This means that they view the family as a vital and integral part of the ‘social body’, and they believe that without families the ‘social body’ would fail to function. Murdoch believes that the nuclear family is the most ideal as it fulfils four necessary functions: economic support, socialisation, reproduction and also enables children to become aware of the sexual needs which occur within relationships. Parsons believes that the family teaches children the diffence between right and wrong. He also believes that there is a sexual division of labour within the family where men and women have gendered roles. The men have an instrumental role within the family and are the ‘breadwinners’ whilst the women are the carers. Parsons uses the analogy of a ‘warm bath’ to describe his theory of the family and its soothing, comforting properties.

    what aspect of family life might Murdoch and Parsons be ignoring?

    Murdoch and Parsons focus their theories on the nuclear family and have ignored single parent families. They failed to consider how a lone parent family could function, with the single parent having to take on both the ‘expressive’ and ‘instrumental’ roles. This would mean that the parent would have to work in order to support the family financially whilst also taking care of the housework and the children’s welfare too.

  14. Tammy Lall / Sep 25 2008 9:46 pm

    How would you summarise Murdoch and Parson’s view on family life?

    After examining and observing 250 societies in different cultures in 1940 Murdoch concluded that the family is universal and inevitable and that the ‘nuclear family’ was the most ideal. He also believed that there were four distinct roles, which consist of: sexual activity, reproduction, economy and socialisation. He also compared the family to the functions way the human body works. If one organ started to fail then so would the rest, just like in society.
    Parsons believed that within the family there was a strong sexual division of labour. What he meant by this was that the women had a different role as opposed to the men. The women would play a more ‘expressive role’ providing love, care, support and all the emotional needs whereas the men would play a more ‘ instrumental role’ and he also referred to them as the ‘breadwinners’ of the family as they would provide the money from their jobs because the women would not go out to work. The father/husband would come home from work he would enter to a relaxed atmosphere in comparison to the stressful one at work, and it would feel like he was sinking into a warm bath. Parsons called this his ‘warm bath theory’.
    Both Murdoch and Parsons views on family life are from the perspectives of a functionalist.

    What aspect of family life might Murdoch and Parsons be ignoring?

    Both these functionalists only really based their views on the ‘nuclear family’ because to them they believed it was the ideal and most common model. Due to this, they did not really consider single parent families, even though they may have not been that common in the 1940’s and 50’s. They ceased to consider that within a single parent family, it would be up to the lone parent to take on both of the gendered roles, (expressive and instrumental). So not only would they be the breadwinners, but they would also have to ensure the provided enough care, love and support towards the children. The same goes for Murdoch his ideology on the four distinct roles would not be that balanced within a single parent family. For example if the lone parent were a man, the economic side would be steady but the other three would, as he would not have that much time for socialising the children. The sexual activity and reproduction would also be slightly unbalanced compared to that of a ‘nuclear family’.

  15. James Frearson / Sep 25 2008 10:46 pm

    This is properly far too long don’t pick this one.
    Within Murdoch’s beliefs is a logical overview which is backed by societies stereotypical standing on the idea of a nuclear family. He delves into the emotional support which is seen to be present in all stable (or outwardly stable) relationships towards other family members. Murdoch states that the family has many roles within society and that there is no substitute for a community based on the nuclear family. This way he has a valid point because, stereotypically, a family which is run by a single parent is seen as to be less of a family than the nuclear model. Yet we also see a family headed by a single parent stratified by society as a family in need of help, the media shows miscreants to stereotypically have problems at home, within their own family environment or, household (which would be made up of step-family members). Murdoch sees the family also as a machine, with working parts. These parts have roles (much like the sexual division of labour). One is to reproduce, another is to create an economic pool in which family members can dive. The family model also is there to provide sexual release for the adults in a relationship through each others intimate company, socialisation is also to be taught to children through conversation between family members.
    Parsons theory is based on the ‘warm bath’ family model. This is in place as an idea, this idea shows the family as a place where problems are solved and warmth is generated. Also this family model is giving the impression of a boundary, this boundary leaves you either within the family and warm (in the waters) or without the family (outside the water and when you get out of a bath the comparable heat outside of the warmth of the water is cold and uncomfortable. Parsons seems to be sending a message about the life and socialisation of a family without a full pool of water, because if you cut out a portion of the bath then all of the heat and water run out and you are left with nothing. Parsons is saying that a single parent family or a household of some sort would be empty of the love indicative of a fully functional family.
    Parsons also theorises that there are two roles to be filled within the family, one being the expressive role (the female, mother, carer) and the instrumental role (the father, breadwinner). Parsons believed that women’s roles were to help de-stress the man and gave the impression that he believed that one could not work fully without the other.

    As illustrated in the short clip the arguments between family members in the nuclear model are common this is something that the theorists have overlooked, these arguments can rupture the perfection of a nuclear family.
    Parsons and Murdoch both have ignored the existence of reconstituted families and single parent families, even though these families would have been far rarer in the 1940s-50s. They are both ignoring the fact that single parent families would have to adapt to suit both roles, maybe taking some ground in between or solidly accepting total control of both roles making it doubly hard for these parents.

  16. alex katsaros / Sep 26 2008 8:51 am

    • Snap activity – how would you summaries Murdoch and Parsons’ view on family life?
    Firstly both Parsons and Murdoch are functionalists with different theories on the family.
    There are four factors on the family which Murdoch describes. The first one is sexual – the family provides stable and sexual relationships. It controls the sexual habits of the family. Reproduction provides new members of society. Socialisation – educates children the values of society. Economic pools resources for all family members to share.
    Parsons uses the analogy of a warm bath to describe the family. When the family is at home it’s like a warm bath – social and relaxed. He also thinks of it as gendered roles. Men act as the breadwinner and also have the instrumental role – providing but women have the expressive role, this allows the family to function correctly.
    • Challenging activity – what aspect of family life might Murdoch and Parsons be ignoring?
    They may be ignoring every other family such as single parents. They focus too much on the nuclear family and I think they only think this as it was in the 1940’s – 1950’s and there weren’t many lone parents then. I also think that they thought that a single parent could not possibly function financially, especially for the children’s support.

  17. marisha brown / Sep 26 2008 9:56 am

    How would you summarize Murdoch and Parsons’ view family life?

    Both Murdoch and Parson’s view the family from a factionalists view. Murdoch believes that a functioning family is the key to a functioning society. He uses a metaphor to explain this; society is like the body, if one part, say the heart, does not function properly then the whole body cannot function. Whereas parson’s believes that a family has gender segregated roles, where women take an ‘expressive’ role, meaning it is her job to provide, love, car and emotional support and men have a more ‘instrumental’ role as the ‘breadwinner.’

    What aspect of family life might Murdoch and Parsons be ignoring?

    Murdoch and Parson’s are ignoring the possibility of diversity within the family; for example extended, reconstitute and lone parent families. When it comes to lone parent families, there is no mention of understanding from Parson’s that the single parent would have to assume both the ‘instrumental’ and the ‘expressive’ role. This is through no fault of their own, it is simple a result of the time period that they were from.

  18. Ellen Houghton / Sep 26 2008 10:55 am

    Part one: Murdoch and Parsons are both functionalists, they both see the family in the same way as being integral to the functioning of the social body. Murdoch believed that the nuclear family was the ideal family and based his biews on this. The nuclear family has four distinct functions for example: sexual, reproduction, socialisation and economic. Parsons uses the analogy of the ‘warm bath’ to describe his theory. the family is there to comfort and soothe the working male. This is because the male in the household has to go out to work into the cold and hard environment. The warm bath is something you come home to and look forward to it, just like a family.

    Part two: Murdoch and Parsons are not taking into consideration that fact that the mother and father may be divorced or unhappy in the relationship and wish to divorce. Sometimes staying in a relationship just for the fact that its what society expects of you isnt necessarily the best thing for anyone. Also being a single parent family means for example, the mother going out to work, looking after the children and cleaning the house too.

  19. Talia Babidge / Sep 26 2008 10:58 am

    How would you describe Murdoch and Parsons’ view on family life?

    Murdoch and Parsons’ are both functionalists. They both believe in the theory that the family is the primary agent of socialisation. They also both believe in the idea given through the portrayal that being part of a “nuclear family” is the ideal life style and what every person should desire to be a part of, if they are not a part of one already. Murdoch believes this especially. He also believes that the family is key to the social body and that without the family it would indeed fail.
    They also believe that economic, sexual, reproduction and socialisation are the kay features that a family is needed for.
    Parsons’ believes that the family is key for child’s upbringing and he also strongly believes in the idea of a sexual division of labour. This in essence is the idea that within a family, gendre plays a key part to whom a persons role should be within that family. For example if you are the wife or mother in the family you are a carer of the family and would be expected to do all the housework like cleaning and cooking. The wife is also expected to be there for moral support for not only the children but for her husband, say if he’s had a bad day at work.
    And the husband, father and male role in the family should be played as the “breadwinner” and should be out all day earning a living to provide for his family.
    Parson has compared family life to a warm bath. He has likened the ideas of being in your comfort zone when you step into a bath at the end of a long hard day at work of that to being in your comfort zone when coming home at the end of a long hard day. Where a person is relaxed and completely comfortable with themselves within their surroundings. This theory is called the “warm bath theory”.

    What aspect of family life might Murdoch and Parsons’ be ignoring?

    Both of Murdoch and Parsons’ theories focus on the “nuclear family”. They miss out any other form of family, which when put as a whole make up more of the population than the “nuclear family”. Meaning in essence that the theories and genarelisations that Murdoch and Parsons’ do not apply to single parent families etc.
    Also the theories assume that every person is happy with their family and the role they play within it.

  20. Jess Rust / Sep 26 2008 11:09 am

    How would you summarise Murdoch and Parsons’ view family life?

    Murdoch and Parson’s are both functionalists, and see the nuclear family as the dominate family, but they both have different views. Murdoch made his views in 1940 his views where, that the family is the social body, like a human body it has to consist of all the organs to function properly, and if you take one away then it doesn’t work correctly and society within that family would not function. He concluded that the nuclear family is the ideal model and it consists of four key functions these are, sexual, reproduction, socialisation and economic.
    Parson’s view however is more stereotypical with men and woman. He believes that a woman’s role in the family is an expressive role to provide care, love, affection and security to the children and to the husband and to support the emotional needs. Whereas the male’s role is as the breadwinner, he is seen to have a stressful challenge / job that could cause a man to breakdown and when he gets home for the woman to relive the tension, by providing love and understanding.

    What aspect of family life might Murdoch and Parsons be ignoring?

    Murdoch and parsons focus on the nuclear family and don’t take into consideration single parents. For example if the mother was single then she would have to work to support her family and look after her children, and do the housework. This means that she is having to take on the expressive and instrumental roles.

  21. Abby Williams / Sep 26 2008 11:43 am

    -How would you summarise Murdoch and Parsons’ view family life?
    Parsons compared the family to warm bath, metaphorically speaking, it is a way of saying family life, should be relaxed, and a nice, warm environment to be in. Within the family, there are roles which are split and influenced by gender. For example, the Dad would have a specified role, known as the ‘instrumental role’ and would be the ‘breadwinner’, this role is a hard, and has a lot of stress involved. The Mum’s specified role would be known as the ‘expressive role’, this role is to provide love and affection, and the emotional support this role would also include housework. Murdoch’s theory is that the family is universal, and inevitable. He concluded that the ‘nuclear’ family is the ideal model, and this model is made up of four functions; Sexual; which the family provide sexual relationships, for adults, Reproduction; Which helps make new members for society, Socialisation; which teaches children the norms of society, and Economy; which all resources are for family to share.

    -What aspect of family life might Murdoch and Parsons be ignoring?
    Parsons and Murdoch may be ignoring the fact that families are splitting up, within divorce, more and more. This has become a more common way of living, and for Murdoch, has cancelled out one of the four functions, and in this effect, this would seem that the family would not be functional. Parsons theory has also been disturbed through this, through living in single parent families, he may feel that children may not be socialised in the appropriate way, due to one parent families.

  22. Bryony Dunsden / Sep 26 2008 11:47 am

    Snap activity – how would you summaries Murdoch and Parsons’ view family life?

    Both Murdock and Parsons saw family life as simple and well rounded. The stereotypical nuclear family that they viewed included obvious roles for men and women. The father in the family will ne called the ‘Bread winners’ they bring in the money and provide for the family. The mother was the career. She stays at home in the day to clean and look after the children; she does all the stereotypical roles of a mother. When the father is back from working and has had a hard day at work it is the mother’s job to attend to his every need once he is home from work. Parsons illustrated his believes by creating the ‘warm bath theory’. It describes the family as a warm bath that comforts you when you get in it. (Just like when you get home from work) you are entering a warm bath. A relaxing environment.

    what aspect of family life might Murdoch and Parsons be ignoring?

    Murdoch and parsons both have theories about the nuclear family, they ignore other families. they do not consider how other families can take on both the ‘expressive’ and insturmental’ roles. This however would be quite hard as the mother/father would have to earn m,oney for the family to run and also take car of the children and other chors.

  23. Amy Ellson / Sep 26 2008 12:06 pm

    Snap activity – how would you summaries Murdoch and Parsons’ view family life?

    Murdoch and parsons are both functionalists, therefore viewing the family in a functionalist’s way. Although they are both functionalists they have different views. Murdoch views the family as a ‘social body’ the family to Murdoch is a massive organ is what he believes in life. If that were to fail all of society will. He made four main functions; reproduction, sexual activity, economy and socialization.
    Parsons believe there is a key role in teaching children and seeing what is right and wrong, and therefore socializing them and teaching tem what is expected of tem in society.

    What aspect of family like might Murdoch and Parsons be ignoring?

    Murdoch’s family is functional and is made up of four functions and if one of those functions were broken it wouldn’t be a family anymore. For example; single parent families.
    Parsons has the theory of a ‘warm bath theory’ this would be broken if a family were to split up, for example ; there would be no family emotional support.

  24. marisha brown / Sep 26 2008 1:44 pm

    How would you summarize Murdoch and Parsons’ view family life?
    Both Murdoch and Parson’s view the family from a factionalists view. Murdoch believes that a functioning family is the key to a functioning society. He uses a metaphor to explain this; society is like the body, if one part, say the heart, does not function properly then the whole body cannot function. Whereas parson’s believes that a family has gender segregated roles, where women take an ‘expressive’ role, meaning it is her job to provide, love, car and emotional support and men have a more ‘instrumental’ role as the ‘breadwinner.’
    What aspect of family life might Murdoch and Parsons be ignoring?
    Murdoch and Parson’s are ignoring the possibility of diversity within the family; for example extended, reconstitute and lone parent families. When it comes to lone parent families, there is no mention of understanding from Parson’s that the single parent would have to assume both the ‘instrumental’ and the ‘expressive’ role. This is through no fault of their own, it is simple a result of the time period that they were from.

  25. Kristina Hall / Sep 27 2008 4:01 pm

    How would you summarise Murdoch and Parsons’ view family life?

    Murdoch and Parsons’ are functionalists. Murdoch vies the family as being a ‘human body’. He uses the family as a ‘lung’; he explains it as without lungs the body would not work. So without the family society would not work and collapse. Parsons’ believes that the family have gender specific roles. Where the woman takes an ‘expressive role’ which means, she has to provide love and care for the family, whereas men have an ‘instrumental role’ where they are the ‘breadwinner’ (bringing in the money).

    What aspect of family like might Murdoch and parsons be ignoring?

    They both seem to be ignoring the fact that there are different types of family, such as reconstituted and single parent families. For example in single parent families, the man/woman would have to take on the roles of ‘expressive’ and ‘instrumental’ bringing in money and providing love and care fir the family . Also in the ‘warm bath theory’ he makes out that there is a sense of a distressed and loving atmosphere in the home, and in a broken or lone family they may be lacking in emotional support and there may be more stress in the home due to the break up of the family.

  26. Shannon Kneis / Sep 28 2008 12:46 pm

    How would you summarise Murdoch and Parsons’ view on family life?
    Both Murdoch and Parsons have a functionalist view on the family, which means they believe the family is an integral part to the functioning of society. The family is a functional prerequisite, which means it is needed for everything else to function within socety, such as schools. Murdoch’s theory focuses on the idea that the family are vital for 4 functions: reproduction, socialisation, economic support and sexual needs. From researching withing 250 communities, Murdoch’s research found that only the family can provide these functions, and that no other substiute has been found to provide, therefore the family is universal and essential. Parsons view is similar, and that the family is essential to provide socialisation to children, and to teach them morals with what is right and what is wrong. Furthermore, Parsons theory is that there is genered roles within the family; the male is tha ‘instrumental’ role and that he is the breadwinner, and that the female is the ‘expressive’ role to provide comfort and emotional support.
    What aspect of family life might Murdoch and Parsons be ignoring?
    The previous theories of Murdochs and Parsons are based ona nuclear family. However, in more recent times there is more diversity within families, so there is other families such as reconstitued, extended and single parent families. For instance in the single parent families, Parsons’s theory of genred roles cannot be applied as only one parent is needed to provide both the instrumental and expressive roles.

  27. joe owst / Sep 28 2008 3:13 pm

    how would you summarise Murdoch and Parsons’ view family life?
    They see the family as a unit with each and every one with their own separate role to play depending on there gender. They say that the family is ket to society in teaching children how to act and behave such as primary socilisation they also say that the family is key to society as it is the back bone and with out it society would fall apart. They say that the womans role is an expressive role which should provide care and love where the male role is to be the “bread winner” by that he means to provide for the family
    what aspect of family life might Murdoch and Parsons be ignoring?
    I think that they are ignoring single perents as they have to play the part of both roles they have ot be the bread winner and be expressive. They need to find time for their family as well as working to support it.

  28. Alice Prichard / Sep 28 2008 5:36 pm

    How would you summarise Murdoch and Parsons’ view family life?

    Murdoch views the family as being the main part in which soeciety is to work well. Without the family society would not function properly and it would break down. This is because the family is the giver of primary socialisation, therefore teaching the basics to childrens and also teaching them morals. Murdoch believed the ‘Nuclear Family’ is the ideal family which achieves four distinct functions these being; sexual, reproduction, socialisation and economic.

    For Parsons, the family plays a key or intrumental role in teaching children what is the right and wrong thing to do. It is also the primary agent of socialisation as it teaches children what society expects of them in a warm secure environment. Parson’s uses the analogy of a warm bath to describe his theory of the family as he see’s it in which an individual can relax into after a long day at work. The family supplies you with emotional security and safety. Also Parson’s believes the the womans role in the family is an ‘expressive role’, where she should provide love, care and affection and all the emotional support a family member might need. On the other hand, Parson’s believes that men have an ‘instrumental role’ as the ‘bread winner’. This role can be stressful and can cause some men to break down. Therefore the woman are there to relieve the burden or tension from the mens shoulders by providing love and understanding. Without these two roles the family would not function properly.

    What aspect of family life might Murdoch and Parsons be ignoring?

    Murdoch and Parsons both ignore the fact that not all families are the ideal ‘Nuclear Family’. This is because there are also reconstituted familys and extended familys in the society today. Also some families might not get with each other, therefore resulting in more stress caused. This means that Parson’s view of the family being like a warm bath is not accurate as some people might be going home to have arguments with other family members. Finally the stereotype of the mums staying at home doing housework, while the dad goes out to work is not always true in every household. Today, a lot of woman go out to work to earn money for themselves, while the dad does his bit around the house.

  29. Tyler Hughes / Sep 28 2008 6:04 pm

    Part one – How would you summarise Murdoch and Parsons’ view family life?

    Both Murdoch and Parsons’ have a functionalist view on the family, which means they see the family as the key to society as it is needed for all other aspects of society to function, for example government, schools ect. However, Murdochs theory in particular focuses on 4 particular aspects which are a key to a successful family; reproduction, sexual needs, socailisation and economic needs. The evidence he used to support this theory was through his research whereby he studied 250 communities and found that without these 4 key point the family could not function properly. Whereas,Parsons’ theory, although similar, focuses more on socialisation of children and the difference between in gender roles. The two key expressions used to describe that of male and female roles, ‘expressive’ which relates to that of the mother by providing emotional support and comfort. The second is ‘instrumental’ role which relates to the father being the bread winner of the family by providing the finical support to keep the family afloat.

    Part Two – What aspect of family life might Murdoch and Parsons be ignoring?

    Murdoch and Parsons’ theories both focus on the nuclear family and therefore ignore all other family types such as the lone parent family. This could contradict the theories as in a lone parent family the mother takes on both gender roles, ‘instrumental’ and ‘expressive’ as she has to be the bread winner and support the family emotionally

  30. Alex Ridout / Sep 28 2008 6:19 pm

    How would you summarise Murdoch and Parsons’ views on family life?

    Parson’s view family life in a functionalists perspective as having two gendered key roles. The two role’s are the ‘instrumental role’ and the ‘expressive role’, Parson’s believed these two roles allows the family to function correctly. The male role would be the ’instrumental role’, to be the breadwinner; to go out and work to bring home the income everyday. The female role would be the ‘expressive role’, taken on by the mother and the function’s would include the caring role by staying at home doing household chores, looking after the children and having her husband’s dinner on the table by time he got home from work. Parson’s understanding of the family was to imagine entering a warm bath as to living in an ideal family institution which takes care of all it’s members, he called this the ‘warm bath’ theory.

    Murdoch views the family as keeping the society from not functioning well, this is because the family provides primary socialisation to keep society functioning. He saw the ’nuclear family’ as the ideal model which achieves four distinct functions sexual, reproduction, socialisation and economic.

    What aspect of family life might Murdoch and Parsons be ignoring?

    Murdoch and Parson’s are ignoring the single parent families and focusing only on the nuclear family. Divorce is getting more common and single parents are having to take on both the ‘expressive’ and ’instrumental’ role in the family. A single parent would have to provide love and care towards their family whilst also working to provide an income to support the family in their home.

  31. Hannah Ementon / Sep 28 2008 8:39 pm

    How would you summerise Murdoch and Parsons’ view on family life?
    Parsons’ view of the family is that there are two gendered roles. The mum is the expressive role, and she does all the caring and cooking. Whereas the dad is the instumental role and does stereotypical mans jobs such as DIY. Murdoch sees the family as being vital for keeping society together. He thinks that the nuclear family is the ideal family. He sees it as achieving four different functions: economic, sexual, reproductive and socialisation.

    What aspect of family life might Murdoch and Parsons’ be ignoring?
    They are ignoring single parent families and only focusing on the nuclear family. Thie might be because it contradicts their theories as the mum or dad who is bringing up the family on their own, would have to take up both of the gender roles.

  32. elsa / Oct 10 2013 2:04 pm

    really helpful for my exam

    • sociologytwynham / Oct 10 2013 2:14 pm

      Thank you for your positive comment 🙂

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