My Perspectives on Family SOC 101: Introduction to Sociology August, 2, 2010 After countless hours of researching The Functionalist, Conflict, and Interactionist Perspectives, I now see just how similar and how very different they are in relation to family. Society is given to separation based on personal beliefs, functions, color, creed, etc. The given perspectives show how societies as a whole view their socialistic status.
The three given perspectives are divided among groups who feel we all work together in an assembly-line fashion to achieve a common goal, groups who feel that we only succeed through struggles with one another, and groups who feel that we as a society need both goals and struggles in order to succeed as a nation. In order to fully understand how these perspectives are different, I had to first figure out just how they were alike. When it comes to family, as I discovered, there were very few similarities between the three perspectives. Only The Functionalist Perspective really speaks of the family as a unit.
According to Sociology: Concepts and Applications in a Diverse World, “the family provides for the bearing and rearing of children until they can live on their own. The major criticism to that however, is that it could disrupt social equilibrium rather than contribute to it, for example, encouraging large families in a society that is already overpopulated. ” (Sullivan, T. (2007) Pgs. 13-17) As mentioned above, the functionalist perspective offers a family unit providing for its own. The Conflict and Interactionist perspectives offer something a little different.
The Conflict perspective says that “in any group, society, or family there are dominant members, or groups who will exert power over others to ensure that their interests are served. ” (Sullivan, T. (2007) Pgs. 13-17) “This perspective can be criticized for overemphasizing the importance of conflict and disregarding the prevalence of stability. In addition, whereas functionalists are accused of being too conservative, conflict theorists are accused of having a radical view that places too much emphasis on changing society rather than understanding how order and stability can be maintained. (Sullivan, T. (2007) Pgs. 13-17) When it comes to perspectives, the Interactionist perspective speaks little, if not at all, of the family unit, nor of its role in society. “The individual looms larger in this perspective than in the other two perspectives mentioned. However, this approach also has its limitations. Because of the emphasis on face-to-face interaction in shaping social reality, there is a tendency to ignore the part that social institutions, such as the family play in molding human behavior. ” (Sullivan, T. 2007). Pgs. 13-17) In layman’s terms, the three perspectives can be broken down like so with regards to family: “Functionalism- Shows little concern with personality; People are shaped by society to perform important functions for society. Conflict Theory- Shows little concern with personality; people are shaped by social institutions and the position of their groups in society. Interactionism- People are symbol manipulators; the self (personality) arises from communication and social interaction. ” (Sullivan, T. 2007) Table 1. 1 Pg. 17) In my opinion, and in the opinion of Robert Young, “The family is one of society’s main and arguably most important, social institutions as it serves to socialize individuals to be productive members of society. As a social system, the family is viewed as an entity which consists of various interrelated parts that perform particular functions. Further, the family as a system is part of a larger system or society, and contributes to the functioning of said society. ” (Young, R. (2007) Pg. 2)
When it comes to family, “there are four areas in which a family unit creates the ideas that allow them to function as a family unit: the first is socialization which is the creation of shared beliefs and ideas. This area is the indication of how one should interact within a society. The second is segregation which separates the parts of a society that are found to function better when removed, and separated from the whole. The third area is ritual which refers to actions that are repeated, typical interactions for the society in a certain situation. Sanctioning is the fourth area.
This area is the one on one interaction of reading another person’s actions and expression’s to determine the appropriate behavior within the society. ” (Anonymous (2007) Pg. 2) “Some people believe that the family is the most important social institution because it is our first encounter with socialization processes. From a sociological perspective, the family is not only viewed as an institution, but also as a social system and a social group. ” (Eshleman, J. R. (2000) Pg. 380). “While it is true that the family unit in the United States is no longer a major economic producing unit, it is a significant economic consuming unit.
It is useless to argue whether or not one economic function is more important than the other. In the same vein, while the family has lost some conspicuous, educational, and religious functions, the majority of children still hold the same religious, political, and social class beliefs similar to those of their parents, suggesting a formidable socialization function in the family. ” (Martinson, F. M. (July 2001) Pg. 375). “Having a close family connection can be vital for both physical and mental health. It can also be important for society to.
Families influence us directly through our interactions, and indirectly by shaping the people that we become. ” (McPherson, M. (Summer 2008) Pg. 32). In the times that are now, we as individuals and family units continue to strive, and continue to fight day after day just to survive in this ever changing society, not to mention the ever evolving world that we Americans live in. With the loss of jobs, the recession, the downfall of our basic society, it is amazing that the family unit is still even present at all. The ability to adapt is a major characteristic of well-functioning families. While flexibility may be an inborn trait, families can be assisted to adapt through social policies and programs that facilitate change through the provision of resources and education. ” (Zeitlin, M. (1995) Pg. 31). In the end, it will be the families that are the most resilient that will stand the test of time. These families ability to evolve with the times will allow them to adapt, and function better when economically the times are terrible. The most visible sign that times are changing would be the constant rise of juvenile crime in the United States, which is caused directly by the weakening of the family unit. Increased rates of unemployment, divorce, technology, and the mass media of today play a prominent part in the downfall of the family unit as well as our society in general. ” (Allan, G. (June 1999) Pg. 28). According to a study from the United States, “through several decades of research a great deal has been said in regards to the trends of a student’s success.
The wholeness of the family unit and the measure of the student’s life in general seem to all be related to the other. The trends show positive changes for all students across the board when positive improvements were noted in their socioeconomic status, their family unit, and in their life in general. ” (Anonymous. (Jan. 28, 2009) Pg. 79). In all the life of the family unit has definitely changed. No longer are we living in the “Leave It to Beaver” age when fathers came home promptly at six to sit down, and have dinner with his family. Now everyone eats at different times, places, and even with different people.
Families are broken into so many different types of family units now that fathers and mothers are becoming obsolete. Now families consist of grandparents, aunts or uncles, foster families, and same sex parents. With everything changing, the basic, old-fashioned family unit of the past is becoming harder to find. With computers, cell phones, gaming systems, cable television, and TiVo no one has time to just sit and be with their families anymore. Kids are too busy, and parents are too tired for another day of work to really push the matter so nothing gets fixed.
In the end, it will be nobody’s fault but our own. As a wife, and mother I try every night to sit down with my family to eat. I want my son to grow up in that old-fashioned, “Leave it to Beaver”, era that I could not take part in because my single mother worked two full time jobs just to take care of me. “The values of families, Americans, and society in general, for good or for ill, cuts across both race and class. Most poor and unemployed family units desire to “make it”, in a middle-class society in much the same way that well-to-do families desire to.
The continuing erosion of civic duty, decline appeal of deferred gratification, complete breakdown of our educational system, the collapse of our economy and the terrible recession that followed, and lastly the growth of wide spread cynicism across the United States are not something that is unique just to the poor, the minorities, or to people who reject tradition all together. ” “The lesson is driven home by Wall Street speculators, crooked politicians, HUD bandits, corporate raiders, drug traffickers, ill equipped leaders, Mob bosses, and S&L criminals just to name a few.
Any preteen knows that an American family unit has a better chance of winning a fortune by committing a crime, then selling the rights to the story rather than working hard day after day, year after year, at a menial job. “Certainly, the willingness to tolerate such inequities indicates not only a failing social standard, but also a decline in fairness, social justice, family values, and human morals. ” (Coontz, S. (1993) Page 2). Gone are the days when the family unit was tight, drugs and prostitution were taboo, and homosexuality was a thing of secrets and rumors.
Now we live in a sex filled, out there, in your face nation that is not afraid of stepping on anyone’s toes. With the world, society, our economy, and life in general ebbing slowly away the family unit is all we have to sustain us until the very end. When all is said and done, our family is really all we have left. No matter how bad they may be, how crazy they make you, and how miserable they can be become they are still the only people on the planet who will stick by you through thick and thin, sickness and health, better or worse, till death do you all part.
After all, the old saying that was true even way back before we were the USA still applies even today, blood truly is thicker than water, and it always will be. No matter what, your family, your blood, flesh of your flesh, bone of your bone, and blood of your blood will always be there to carry you, and stand by you in the hard times. That is why the family unit is the most important social institution on this planet, or any other. In conclusion, we would not be here without them, and we can’t live without them, so here’s to family. Here’s to my family, to your family, and to every other family out there.
To Family. Reference Page Sullivan, T. J. (2007). Sociology: Concepts and Applications in a Diverse World. (7th edition) Pearson Education, Inc: Boston, MA. Chapter 1, Pages 13-17, Table 1. 1. Young, R. G. (2008) Sociology of the Family. R-Young: Homestead, FL. 2 Pages. Pg. 2. Retrieved on Feb. 26, 2009 from http://ryoung001. homestead. com/family/html. Anonymous. (2007) Applying Sociology in the Family. Applied Sociology: Washington, D. C. 2 Pages. Pg. 2. Retrieved on Feb. 26, 2009 from http://www. appliedsoc. org. family Eshleman, J. R. (2000) The Family (9th edition) Allyn & Bacon: Boston, MA. 580 Pages.
Pg. 380. Martinson, F. M. (July 2001) Family in Society. Dodd, Mead, & Company Inc: New York, NY. 395 Pages. Page 375. Retrieved on Feb. 26, 2009 from http://www. ipce. info/booksreborn/martinson/family/index. html. McPherson, M. Lovin, L. S. Brashears, M. (Summer 2008) The Ties that Bind Are Fraying. Contexts: Berkeley, CA. Vol. 7, Issue 3, Page 32 (5 Pages) Retrieved on Feb. 26, 2009 from http://proquest. umi. com Zeitlin, M, M. Megawangi, R. Kramer, E. M. Colletta, N. D. Babatunde, E. D. Garman, D. (1995) Strengthening the Family. United Nations University Press: Tokyo, Japan. 268 Pages. Page 31.
Retrieved on Feb. 26, 2009 from http://books. google. com Allan, G. (June 1999) the Sociology of the Family. Wiley-Blackwell Publishing: Chippenham Wilts, Great Britain. 364 Pages. Page 28. Retrieved on Feb. 26, 2009 from http://books. google. com Anonymous. (Jan. 28, 2009) Education Letter. Contexts: Atlanta, GA. Pg. 79. Retrieved on Feb. 26, 2009 from http://proquest. umi. com Coontz, S. (1993) The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap. The Family Crisis Reconsidered. Metropolitan Reform: Washington, D. C. 483 Pages. Pg. 28. Retrieved on Feb. 26, 2009 from http://www3. niv. edu