Examine Marxist views on the role of the family
Marxists see the society as a capitalist society, based on an unequal conflict between the two social classes. The capitalists who own the means of production and the working class who provide the labour for the capitalists to exploit for profit. They see all society’s institutions as maintaining class inequality and capitalism. There are three main Marxist sociologists, Engles, Marx and Zaretsky. Marxists have identified several functions that they see the family as fulfilling for capitalism one of these functions is inheritance of property. Marx called the earliest classless society ‘primitive communism’ at this stage there was no such thing as family. As society developed private property became important. Engels said the patriarchal monogamous nuclear family emerged. In order to ensure the legitimate heir inherited from them. Marx said with the overthrow of capitalism the means of production would be owned collectively so there would be no need for the nuclear family to exist as a means of transmitting private property down the generations. Another function is ideological functions. Marxists argue that the family today performs key ideological functions for capitalism. One way the family does this is by socialising children into the idea that hierarchy and inequality are inevitable. When parents control their children it introduces them to the idea that there is always someone in charge, and prepares them for working life. Zaretsky said that another ideological function the family performs is offering an apparent haven from the capitalist world. A unit of consumption is another function. Capitalists exploit workers, making profit by selling the products of their labour. Therefor the family plays a major role in generating profits. The main criticism of the Marxist perspective is that they assume the nuclear family is dominant in capitalist society. They ignore the diversity and variety of families currently...
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