Using Material from Item a and Elsewhere, Assess the Contribution of Marxism to Our Understanding of Families and Households. (24 Marks)

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Using material from Item A and elsewhere, assess the contribution of Marxism to our understanding of families and households. (24 marks)Marxists see all society’s institutions as helping to maintain class inequality and Capitalism. Therefore, the main contribution of Marxism to the sociology of families and households has been to explain how the family functions to maintain the interests of the bourgeoisie, and maintain the Capitalist system. Marxists’ contributions have drawn much criticism from Feminist and Functionalist sociologists, who question whether Marxism can help us to understand the family in contemporary society.

Marxists argue that the key factor determining the shape of all social institutions, including the family, is the mode of production. Engels (1891) argues that the Capitalist mode of production has shaped the family in many ways. He argues that Capitalism depends on the patriarchal monogamous nuclear family. In Engel’s view this family structure is essential to Capitalist society because of the inheritance of private property- men have be certain of the paternity of their children in order to ensure that their legitimate heirs inherit from them. For Engels, it is the nature of Capitalism which dictates the structure of the nuclear family, and in turn the nuclear family maintains class inequality as inheritance of private property ensures that class divisions between the proletariat and bourgeoisie are maintained. However, Engel’s view can be criticized as it assumes that the nuclear family is dominant in capitalist society. This assumption ignores the wide and increasing variety of family structures found in society today. Engels also cannot explain why Capitalism has not broken down although the lines of private property inheritance are now more blurred because of family diversity.Another key function of the family, as outlined by Marxists,…...

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