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Anthony Harte Family In Focus In todays modern western society most people are born into and brought up by a family It seems normal familiar and a natural part of lifes progression that most of these people will on to get married and have children of their own This is reinforced by mass media through the press ie Posh and Becks advertisements ie cars and holidays and soaps ie Eastenders and The Simpsons All of which revolve around the family in general However there are many varieties of families ranging from global cultural differences to certain groups contained by our own society Families in Britain have undergone major changes historically and will progressively continue to do so with the onset of divorce gay families and even down to the traditional diversions of family roles This essay will concentrate on the extent of such changes and their consequences for families in Britain and look at whether the family is still relevant in society today To fully understand the key changes taking place in the family we need to look historically at the roles and the importance of the family in our society starting with the work of functionalists One of the major paradigms in sociology that looks at the role of the family is functionalism The foundations of functionalist analysis are based around consensus They work on the belief that families function in a way similar to the human body with all systems within it working together to maintain the health of society One Functionalist George Peter Murdoch 1949 compared 250 different societies to conclude his theory of the family this was The family is a social group characterised by common residence economic co-operation and reproduction It includes adults of both sexes at least two of whom maintain a socially approved sexual relationship and one or more children own or adopted of the sexually cohabiting adults Murdoch 1949 p1 cited in Taylor et al 2000 p233
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