The Family Institution Lamar Mack SOC 101 Pamela Spence April 25, 2011 The American family is normally composed of two parents, mother and father, and the rearing of a single to numerous children. Within the family institution, the three sociological theories of functionalism, conflict, and interactionism are experienced. The purpose of this paper is to explore how each theory applies to the family, the similarities and the differences. How each theory affects the views of the individuals that are part of the family.
How each theory affects the approach the effects of social change within the family and how each theory affects the views of society. These theories can be thoroughly explored within the realm of my own family composed of husband, wife, and five children. All seven members of my family have individual roles and responsibilities to abide by to keep our lives in balance. As a father of my family, I am responsible for contributing financially to the bills and maintain the discipline of our children. My wife is also responsible for contributing the financial necessities as well as cooking and cleaning.
Each of the five children, with in the family institution, are responsible for getting there school assignments done and keeping their personal areas of the house clean and in order. From the functionalist perspective you have to think of a society as living organism in which each part of the organism contributes to its survival (Schaefer, 2009, p. 14). Functionalism in our home is experienced when all of the family members are playing their part and have good attitudes. When functionalism is experienced, there is peace and unity in the home.
The bills get paid on time, meals are prepared on schedule, every room in the home is kept clean and tidy and the children receive the grades they are capable of. When any one member is rebelling in his or her responsibilities, the family as whole suffers in balance, stress, disunity, and conflict. Conflict is widely experienced in my family institution. The conflict theory makes different assumptions about the family as an institution, interpreting the family as a system of power relations that reinforce and reflects the inequalities in a society (Andersen & Taylor, 2007).
Most of the stress and rebellion is from the children deciding there individual wants and wishes take precedence over what is expected of them. Instead of doing their daily homework and chores, they like to skip there responsibilities for play time. As a result, our home becomes unbalanced stressful, and dysfunctional (VIKTOR & TSUSHIMA, 2011). These conflicts alter the functionalism and unity in the home and privileges of the children are removed. It is very difficult to enjoy a family where conflict is present. My wife and I have to pick up their slack and deal with their bad attitudes.
We often try and communicate with them that if we, as the parents, neglected our responsibilities, they would not have meals to eat or a roof over their head. During time of conflict, the interaction within my family has become symbolic. During times of conflict the theory of interactionism shows negotiations among members of our family can create temporary, socially constructed relations which remain in constant flux (McClelland, 2000). With the Interactionism theory we see humans as active, creative participants who construct their social world conforming objects of socialization (McClelland, 2000).
Within my family, we must adjust our behaviors to the actions of other family members. The way I interact with the children in times of conflict and content is different that they way mom interacts with the children. In turn, this creates differences in the way the children interact to and deal with us. I am regarded as a disciplinary figure in times of conflict and horse play in time of contentment. On the other hand, mom is always regarded for nourishment and support. The roles change as our schedules change. When my wife’s schedule changes the necessary adjustments with the kids have to be made in the role I play.
I have to be the discipliner, nourisher, and support system. In time when my schedule changes and I am unable to interact and fulfill my usual role as a parent, my wife’s interaction changes to discipliner, nourisher, and the support system. In conclusion, I have found that all theories can apply in different areas of my family institution. When looking at the functionalism theory, we all play a role in the institution. Functionalism is vital to sustain our family’s unity whether it is with the: bills, cooking, cleaning, or just as simple as getting homework done on time.
When looking at a conflict theory, it explains what people in a family institution may struggle with. The conflict can be the role of power, money, and the struggles that all American families face. Within the interactionism theory it is based on the communication and how the family institution interacts with each other and can find symbolic meaning in that interaction. I find that all theories can be applied within my family institution. Reference Andersen, M. L. , & Taylor, H. F. (2007). Sociology:understanding a diverse society. Cengage Learning. McClelland, K. (2000, Febuary 21).
SYMBOLIC INTERACTIONISM. Retrieved Febuary 24, 2011, from Grinnell College: http://web. grinnell. edu/courses/soc/s00/soc111-01/IntroTheories/Symbolic. html Schaefer, R. T. (2009). SOCIOLGY . In A BRIEF INTRODUCTION . Boston: McGraw-Hill. VIKTOR, G. , & TSUSHIMA, T. (2011). Symbolic Interactionism – Symbolic Interactionism And Family Studies. Retrieved April 25, 2011, from Net Industries: <a href=”http://family. jrank. org/pages/1677/Symbolic-Interactionism-Symbolic-Interactionism-Family-Studies. html”>Symbolic Interactionism – Symbolic Interactionism And Family Studies</a>