Skip to content
June 13, 2013 / C H Thompson

Feminist views of the family (Marxist and Radical)

Feminist writers have had a lot more influence on the family than any other perspective.



  • Marxist feminists emphasise how capitalism uses the family to oppresses women, and the harmful consequences of the family to women’s lives
  • For example Margaret Benston (1972) argued that capitalism benefits from an army of women – an unpaid workforce- who are compliant and willing to do as they’re told because they’ve been socialised to act this way Benston said:
  • “The large amount of unpaid labour performed by women is very large and very profitable to those who own the means of production.”
  • This social reproduction of labour power isn’t just about producing children as future healthy workers, it’s also about ideological conditioning – to make women passive
  • The Marxist feminist position is further enhanced by Fran Ansley (1972)
  • she grabs hold of Parsons’ view of the family as functioning to stabilise adult personalitiesand turns into Marxist idea
  • By arguing Parsons’ ‘function’ of the family (particularly the wife) as an ’emotional safety-valve’ to absorb the husbands frustrations is created by the capitalist system
  • By being an emotional safety valve, the wife helps keep capitalism stable – this explanation views society as one of conflict rather than consensus as Parsons’ does
  • Diana Feeley (1972) argues the family socialises the young into a false consciousness of class inequality and stratification
  • Feeley position is similar to that of Althussar’s, arguing familial ideology is designed to teach passivity not rebellion


Criticism of Marxist feminist perspectives of the family comes from sociologists who highlight how:

  1. Marxist feminism places a lot of emphasis on nuclear family ignoring family diversity (in the same way functionalists do)
  2. the approach also assumes a degree of passivity with women, for example some women might actively choose their social role as a wife and mother
  3. some women might have an ‘active’ matriarchal rather than being a ‘passive’ victim of patriarchy

In contrast, radical feminists…….


Leave a Comment
  1. SOWTW / Jun 17 2013 7:24 am

    Stop Oppression of Women in the Third World

    We are a new organization that is committed to stopping the oppression of women in the third world countries.

    Women in the Third World suffer considerably from the following problems:

    -daily domestic violence

    -brutal rape and torture

    -patriarchal culture without any moderation

    -abusive men

    -honor killings

    -forced poverty and are unable to free themselves since women are considered as property, not human beings, in many third world countries

    We are committed to trying to END this oppression. One of our goals is to create a political lobby or organization that lobbies for visas for single or divorced women from third world countries, so that we can bring them to the West and help them escape the abuse, rape, poverty, and violence of the patriarchal system in most third world countries.

    If you are interesting in helping out by donating, or web designing, or campaigning for us, please drop me a line at sowtw1987 AT hotmail DOT com

  2. Gerty Merline Sibz / Mar 6 2017 5:49 am

    i luv dat

  3. Mayemura Masomera / Apr 10 2018 11:08 am

    True! I am supporting you 100%.


  1. CAPE SOCIOLOGY UNIT 1: The feminist perspective argues that since its origin, sociology has highlighted the male point of view while neglecting to incorporate the opinions and experience of the female population. Discuss three feminist critique. – B

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: