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5. Sociology and Politics: Functionalism, Feminism and the Family
About this Lecture
In this module, we think about how functionalist analysis can be used to understand society and politics by looking at the example of feminism and the family. In particular, we focus on: (i) Parsons’ explanation of the rising divorce rate in the US in the 1950s and 1960s; (ii) his analysis of the functions of the nuclear family in modern society and understanding of gendered familial roles; (iii) Merton’s analysis of the emergence of the feminist movement as resulting from the growing dysfunctionality of traditional gendered family roles; (iv) the functionalist approach to understanding gay marriage and its impacts on the family and marriage as an institution.
In this course, Professor John Holmwood (University of Nottingham) explores functionalism as an approach within sociology. In the first module, we think about the emergence of functionalist ideas in the work of Émile Durkheim and their influence in anthropology. In the second, we consider Talcott Parsons’ efforts to create a more systematic functionalist method within sociology, and how Parsons sought to overcome the issue of agency within functionalism. In the third module we look at some of the criticisms of functionalism, before turning in the fourth module to how Robert Merton attempted to create a new approach which could address these criticisms. In the final module, we explore the ways in which functionalism can help us to understand society and politics through the example of feminism and the family.
Professor John Holmwood is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Nottingham. He researches sociological theory and issues around education and schooling. His recent publications include (with Gurminder Bhambra) Colonialism and Modern Social Theory (2021), (with Therese O’Toole) Countering Extremism in British Schools? The Truth about the Birmingham Trojan Horse Affair (2018) and (as co-editor) A Handbook of British Sociology (2014).
Cite this Lecture
Holmwood, J. (2021, August 23). Functionalism - Sociology and Politics: Functionalism, Feminism and the Family [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/functionalism/sociology-and-politics-functionalism-feminism-and-the-family
Holmwood, John. "Functionalism – Sociology and Politics: Functionalism, Feminism and the Family." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 23 Aug 2021, https://www.massolit.io/courses/functionalism/sociology-and-politics-functionalism-feminism-and-the-family