Fully explain and concisely illustrate two (2) of the “Theoretical Perspectives on Families” discussed in your text (pp. 37–49). Use families presented in television programs, the movies, novels, or the Bible to illustrate the selected perspectives. The functionalist perspective focuses on stability and cooperation and emphasizes the importance of the family in maintaining the stability of society. The functionalist theory states that marriage is a microcosmic replica of the larger society, and the family fills six basic needs for the survival of society.
Family life is organized in ways that are useful or functional for society. Despite being antiquated, the breadwinner-homemaker family is an efficient way to organize family life. The husband works outside the home while the wife does the housework and child care. The functionalist perspective is a male-dominant perspective (Strong et. al. 2011). In modern times, feminists have attacked patriarchy view and many women resisted male domination. The Feminist Perspective argued that the functionalist view is inadequate and idealized.
It stated that gender defines social roles and cultural characteristics. Yet these roles have no biological reason behind them but are culturally dictated; therefore, they are socially constructed. These roles appear to be constructed to give men power. Experience of living in a family is different for women than it is for men. Families can be sources of social inequality, especially reinforcing the inequality of women. Women having economic power can lead to many challenges within the family, and within society (Strong et. al. 2011).
Independence is a good quality for feminists, but not for functionalists. Since families involve domination and struggle, there must be compromise and good communication or there can be many problems, leading to domestic violence and other such abuse. During the 1950s, the Cleavers on the television show “Leave It to Beaver” epitomized the American family. In 1960, the majority of American households were like the Cleavers: made up of a breadwinner father, a homemaker mother, and their kids. During most of the 1950s and 1960s, white middle-class families dominated programs.
The 1960s, however, began to showcase more structural variability, with an increase in families headed by a single widowed parent, such as in The Andy Griffith Show. (Fleahman et. al. 2009) Today, “traditional” families with a working husband, an unemployed wife, and one or more children make up a very small percentage of the nation’s households. And as America’s families have changed, the image of the family portrayed on television has changed accordingly. Today’s television families run the gamut from two-career families to two single mothers and their children and an unmarried couple who cohabitate in the same house.
Another factor reshaping family life has been a massive influx of mothers into the work force. As wives have assumed a larger role in their family’s financial support, they have felt justified in demanding that husbands perform more child care and housework. Feminism has also been a major force that has transformed American family life. The women’s liberation movement attacked the societal expectation that women defer to the needs of spouses and children as part of their roles as wives and mothers.
The larger mainstream of the women’s movement articulated a powerful critique of the idea that child care and housework were the apex of a woman’s accomplishments or her sole means of fulfillment (Strong et. al. 2011). Historically, television has promoted a traditional family model with wise parents, little serious conflict, and mostly conforming behavior. Families on television during the 1950s and much of the 1960s talked with each other, and parents always helped their children through adolescence.
Although the 1970s had a number of sentimental portrayals, such as “Little House on the Prairie” or the still popular “Brady Bunch,” it also experimented with more diverse relationship patterns in such favorites as “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons. ” In “All in the Family. ” family members were likely to ignore, withdraw, and oppose one another, in addition to showing support and caring. (Fleahman et. al. 2009) During the 1980s, “The Cosby Show” dominated public perceptions of family portrayals with an enviable family.
Primetime soap operas such as “Dallas” and “Dynasty” explored the seamier side of extended families. The end of the 1980s saw a more cynical view of the family in such comedy hits as “Roseanne” and “The Simpsons. ” By the 1990s family relationships were again portrayed more positively in terms of psychological health on shows such as “Family Matters” and “Home Improvement. ” (Fleahman et. al. 2009) Although conflicts in family programs have increased rapidly from the late 1970s, family members almost always successfully resolved the conflicts by way of positive, constructive, and pro-social communication.