Sociological as composed of different groups and interest competing


·       Sociology as
science employs perspectives or theories to understand, explain, analyze and
interpret social phenomena.

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·       A theory may be
defined as a general statement about how some parts of the world fit together
and how they work. (Major Theoretical Perspectives in

Structural-functional perspective:-

Ø The
functionalist perspective is based largely on the works of Herbert Spencer,
Emile Durkheim, Talcott Parsons, and Robert Merton.

Ø According to
functionalism, society is a system of interconnected parts that work together
in harmony to maintain a state of balance and social equilibrium for the whole.

Ø This perspective
emphasize the interconnectedioness of society by focusing on the influence of
its each part.

Conflict perspective:-

Ø the conflict
perspective views society as composed of different groups and interest
competing for power and resources.

Ø The conflict
perspective explains various aspects of our social world by looking at which
groups have power and benefit from a particular social arrangement.

Ø The origins of
the conflict perspective can be traced to the classic works of Karl Marx. Marx
suggested that all societies go through stages of economic development. (Understanding Social Problems, 5th edition,



·       Sociological
institution are a system of behavioral and relationship patterns that are
densely interwoven and function across an entire society.

·       Institiution
regulate the behavior of individuals in core areas of society.

·       These
instituition are the important structural component of modern societies.

·       Without sovial
instituions modern socities could not exists. (Social Institutions in Encyclopedia of
Quality of Life Research, n.d.)


The family is an intimate domestic social group made
up of people realted to one another by bonds of blood sexual mating or legal

It is the smallest and most basic social institution
which is also the most important primary group found in the society.

“The family is the basic primary group and the
natural matrix of personality”. (Mack)

“Family is a group defined by a sex
relationship, sufficiently precise and enduring to provide for the procreation
and upbringing of children”. (Page)




Universality of family:-

it is only possible to
talk of relationships as universal. (Gittins, 1993)

it is the idea of the
nuclear family as universal that is the significant fact. (McIntosh, 1991)

taking ‘snapshots’ of
household types is misleading. Over the life-cycle the most people live in
families. (Chester)

o   George Peter Murdock  claimed that some form of family existed in
every society and insisted on that the family is universal. His standpoint is
that a family consists of a husband, wife and one or more offspring. He is also
of the opinion that a family lives together and produces offspring moreover
that family is a universal phenomenon. (G.M.Sabestlanpillai)




Functionalists see the family
as the basic and most vital institution in society, just as one could see the
heart and the brain as the most vital organs of the body.

Functionalists sociologists
would say the effect of increasing numbers of working wives and mothers (the pebble
in the pond) has been to cause changes in family life (ripples).

A new situation has come about,
in which activities in the home are shared so society has entered into a new
stable state (the calm pond).



Marxists argue that the
family is not necessarily a haven of love and protection from the social world
and the Functionalists advocate.

 Rather, they purport that this unit acts as an
institution that is designed solely to meet the needs of the capitalist
economic system.

 The institution of the family, therefore, is a
system of power relations that reinforces and reflects the inequalities in

Cooper (1972) argues that the
family is an “ideological conditioning device in an exploitative society.”


Different types of families:-


A nuclear family
is a small group consisting of a husband, a wife and children, natural or

It consists of
two generations only. In all modern societies, nuclear family is the most
common type of family.

In fact, nuclear
family is both the consequence as well as the cause of the disintegration of
joint family.

Joint Family:

A joint family consists of
three generation, living together under the same roof, sharing the same kitchen
and purse or economic expenses.

It is a family consisting of three
nuclear families living together.

According to Iravati Karve, a
joint family is “a group of people, who generally live under the same roof,
who eat food cooked at one hearth, who hold property in common, and who
participate in common family worship and are related to each other as some
particular type of kindered.”

Family of Matrilocal

When a couple stays in the
wife’s house, the family is known as family of matrilocal residence.

Family of Patrilocal

When a family stays in the
house of husband, the fam­ily is known as family of patrilocal residence.

Matrilineal Family:

When ancestry or descent is
traced through the female line, or through the mother’s side, the family is
called matrilineal family.

Patrilineal Family:

A family in which the
authority is carried down the male line, and descent is traced through the male
line or the father’s side, is called a patrilineal family.

Matriarchal Family:

It is a form of family in
which authority is centred in the wife or mother. The matriarchal family system
implies rule of the family by the mother, not by the father. In this type of
family women are entitled to perform religious rites and husband lives in the
house of wife.

Patriarchal Family:

Patriarchal family is a type
of family in which all authority belongs to the paternal side. In this family,
the eldest male or the father is the head of the family. In the developed
patriarchal system of the past, the patriarch had unlimited and undisputed
authority over his wife, sons and daughters.

Endogamous Family:

Endogamy is the practice of
marrying someone within a group to which one belongs. An endogamous family is
one which consists of husband and wife who belong to same group such as caste
or tribe.

Exogamous Family:

Endogamy means marriage
within a group, while exogamy means marriage with someone outside his group.
For example a Hindu must marry outside his Kinship group or gotra. When a
family is consisted of husband and wife of different groups such as gotra is
called exogamous family. (, n.d.)


Functional perspective:-

Functionalists say that the
modern nuclear family has evolved from earlier forms and its structure is most
appropriate for and beneficial for an advanced industrial society.

William J. Goode added to the Functionalist view in a study of
family trends throughout the world entitled World Revolution and Family
Patterns, 1963. His basic thesis was that there is a worldwide trend towards a
monogamous nuclear family structure. In response to claims that there is a
diversity of family forms including polygamy, clan and extended families,
social rather than biological fatherhood’s.

Goode argued that there was a
universal trend towards the Western model of the nuclear family because like
Parsons, he saw this an integral part of the global expansion of
industrialization. (Goldthorpe’s, n.d.)

Conflict perspective:-

Morgan (1975) posits that
both functionalist and Marxist approaches “presuppose a traditional model of the nuclear
family where there is a married couple with children, where the husband is the
breadwinner and where the wife stays at home to deal with the housework.”

There is a general
underestimation of the “extent of cruelty, violence, incest and neglect” within

The traditional family form
in most cultures is patriarchal, contributing to inequality between the
sexes. Males tend to have more power and females tend to have less.

Traditional male roles and
responsibilities are valued more than the traditional roles done by their wives
(i.e., housekeeping, child rearing). The traditional family is also an
inequitable structure for women and children.

For example, more than 60
percent of all mothers with children under six are in the paid workforce. Even
though these women spend as much (or more) time at paid jobs as their husbands,
they also do more of the housework and child care. (,


Relationship with society:


The family performs several essential
functions for society. It socializes children, it provides emotional and
practical support for its members, it helps regulate sexual activity and sexual
reproduction, and it provides its members with a social identity.

Family problems stem from
sudden or far-reaching changes in the family’s structure or processes; these
problems threaten the family’s stability and weaken society.


The family contributes to
social inequality by reinforcing economic inequality and by reinforcing
patriarchy. Family problems stem from economic inequality and from patriarchal

The family can also be a
source of conflict, including physical violence and emotional cruelty, for its
own members. (15.2 Sociological Perspectives on
the Family)






Treatment of women in families:-


§  Structural functionalists posit that gender
roles arise from the need to establish a division of labor that will help
maintain the smooth running of the family.

§  In this view, girls and boys are taught
different approaches to life. Boys are taught instrumentality.Girls, on the
other hand, are taught to be expressive.

§  In many ways, the functionalist perspective of gender
equality is a product of its times, describing the realities of gender
roles and inequalities of the 1950s but not explaining them.

§  However, the functionalist perspective is less
useful for describing the realities of gender in the postindustrial age,
in which many women work outside the home, men can stay at home with the
children, and everyone helps with the housework.

§  More research is needed in order to gain a
better understanding of the role of gender in twenty-first-century society and
how the changing requirements of the postindustrial age affect these roles and
the stability they enforce on society. (Structural Functionalist Theories of Gender


§  women in Western cultures could not vote or
hold property, making them entirely dependent on men. Men, like any other group
with a power or wealth advantage, fought to maintain their control over
resources (in this case, political and economic power).

§  Conflict between the two groups caused things
like the Women’s Suffrage Movement and was responsible for social change.

§  Friedrich Engels, a German sociologist, studied family
structure and gender roles from a Marxist perspective.

§  Engels suggested that the same owner-worker
relationship seen in the labor force could also be seen in the household, with
women assuming the role of the proletariat. This was due to women’s dependence
on men for the attainment of wages.

§  Contemporary conflict theorists suggest that
when women become wage earners, they gain power in the family structure
and create more democratic arrangements in the home, although they may still
carry the majority of the domestic burden. (Gender Stratification and Inequality, n.d.)

Treatment of children:-

Focusing on child abuse,
conflict theory tries to make sense of the conflict that is occurring, usually
between a parent and child.

Conflict theory argues that
groups in society will fight over unequal distribution of power. Looking at
child abuse, the subordinate group (parents) hold the power over the
subordinate group (children) and use that power in a negative way.

 Conflict theory is important because it helps
to understand the discrimination these children are facing and where the
discrimination stems from.





Changes in family system:-

Due to industrlizaltion and
urbanization, different changes are occurring in the family system.

·      Disintegration:-

There are students of the
family who say that the Western family, and particularly the American family,
has shown signs of disintegration that are actual and absolute.

·      Loss of Function:-

Other sociologists speak of
loss of function when explaining what happened to the American family.

The loss-of-function
sociologists point out that the family at one time performed many functions on
behalf of its members, on behalf of the community, and on behalf of society,
and that it has gradually lost these functions.

Historically, the family was
both an important productive unit (making soap and clothing and processing
food) and an important protective unit (against wild animals and savages). Not
only has the family lost these and other functions; it has not taken on any
significant new ones.

·      Adaptability:-

Still other sociologists
recognize that social change has taken place but view change as having had a
favorable effect on the family.

Burgess sees the emergence of
a type of family characterized by adaptability–a family that can adapt not
only to changing conditions but also to divergent personalities with diversity
of cultural backgrounds.

·      The “Colleague” Family:-

Blood and Wolfe in a survey
of empirical data conclude that the American family has not for many decades
been highly integrated and authoritarian in structure.

They conclude that the
patriarchal family–a family ordered under a strong, authoritarian father

Miller and Swanson call this
type of family the “colleague” family because it resembles coworkers
rather than companions–interdependent, but each with distinct and mutually
recognized competencies.

·      Improvement:-

Other sociologists see the
American family not as disintegrating but as improving. More of the population
is marrying; marriages–when death rate and divorce rate are considered
together–are lasting longer; more people are remarrying; divorce-rate increase
has been checked, at least for the present; more and more couples are
establishing homes of their own and are having children.13 America is seen as a
family-affirming society, and the American people by their actions as
family-affirming people. (htt2)







Family system of Pakistan:

Social life is a part of human nature. Due to various
reasons society is divided in rural and urban areas. Similarly. Pakistani
society is also divided in rural and urban society.

Before to creation of Pakistan the joint family system was
much liked but today the world social change also affected Pakistani culture.
That is why?  With joint family system
the tendency of nuclear family system is advancing, but Pakistani nation is an Islamic
society which gives emphasis upon children’s rights in particular.

Our Holy Prophet peace be upon Him when ordered to parents
to edify and provide better education and moral society to their children, also
asked the children to display excellent behavior towards their parents. (JOINT FAMILY

Ø According
to my opinion most people prefer joint family system on different
statements sometime on the basis of financial support because in joint family
system financial burden is shared by all the members of the family.

In joint family system financial burden is share by all
family member, and divided their responsibility. All people have the right to
express the feeling and share the opinion and lead the lives on the basis of
their own choice.

Joint faimly helps children to understand and value
different relationships respecting each and keeping the feeling of togetherness
alive and such an environment makes them learn adaptability and adjustment.

In joint family every body give his opinion and decision
comes to deciding the children future.



Works Cited
(n.d.). Retrieved from
(n.d.). Retrieved from
15.2 Sociological Perspectives on the Family. (n.d.).
In sociology: understanding and changing the social world.
(2007). In K. a. Mooney, Understanding Social
Problems, 5th edition.
Chester, R. (n.d.).
Davis, K. (n.d.).
G.M.Sabestlanpillai. (n.d.). IS THE FAMILY A
Gender Stratification and Inequality. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Sociological Perspectives on Gender Stratification

Gittins, D. (1993).
Goldthorpe’s. (n.d.). Functionalist View of the
Family. (n.d.). Retrieved from
Mack, Y. (n.d.).
Mack, Y. (n.d.).
Major Theoretical Perspectives in sociology. (n.d.).
In Introduction to sociology for health sciences students.
McIntosh, B. a. (1991).
Page, M. a. (n.d.).
Social Institutions in Encyclopedia of Quality of
Life Research. (n.d.). Retrieved
(n.d.). Structural Functionalist Theories of
Gender Inequality.


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