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Sociological Theories of the Family

3. Marxist Approaches

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About this Lecture


In this lecture, we explore Marxist approaches to the family, focusing in particular on: (i) the work of Karl Marx (1818-83) and Friedrich Engels (1820-95), and the view that the form of family life changes as the means of production changes; (ii) Engels' work 'The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State' (1884), and his view on the origins of the nuclear family; (iii) the impact of the nuclear family on gender and class relations, especially the subordination of women to men; and (iv) the view of Marxist feminists that the work of women (both in the home and as potential workers) is essential in the maintenance of capitalism.


In this course, Dr Vicki Harman (University of Surrey) explores the sociology of the family. In the first lecture, we think about the different ways in which we might define the word 'family', as well as considering some of the alternative concepts that have found currency in recent sociological research, e.g. 'household', 'personal life'. In the second lecture, we look at functionalist approaches to the family. In the third lecture, we explore Marxist theories of the family. Next, we think about feminist approaches to the family. In the fifth lecture, we consider how the nature of the family and of family life has changed over time. In the sixth and final lecture, we think about the concepts of 'family practices' and 'family display', including the work of David Morgan and Janet Finch.


Dr Vicki Harman is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Surrey. Her research interests include family life, motherhood and gender. She is co-editor of Feeding Children Inside and Outside the Home (2019) and Mothering, Mixed Families and Racialised Boundaries (2015), and author of The Sexual Politics of Ballroom Dancing (2018).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Harman, V. (2021, August 23). Sociological Theories of the Family - Marxist Approaches [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Harman, V. "Sociological Theories of the Family – Marxist Approaches." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 23 Aug 2021,

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