Brown et al (2015) acknowledges that “Given the complex selection of family structures and relationships that are now possible, defining the family today presents a challenge for sociologists” (pg. 174) Apart from changing definitions of the family due mainly to the process of social change which, in turn, has been resulted in changing norms and values regarding the family there are also a number of different sociological perspectives on the family. This essay will discuss the Marxist, Feminist and Functionalist sociological perspectives on the family.The discipline of sociology first emerged in the early nineteenth century as a way of explaining the social change which was occurring as a result of industrialisation and urbanisation. Indeed, it has been argued that sociology emerged out of the aftermath of the industrial and political revolutions of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and is still obsessed with their consequences. As the discipline became more established new perspectives emerged. A perspective may be considered as a ‘way of seeing’ something. In sociology a perspective is a way of seeing society or some aspect of the way people behave. The main perspectives were ; Functionalism, which maintains an interest in how order and stability are maintained within society ; Marxism, which focuses on areas of conflict and disorder and Feminism which is critical of male power and control within society.Functionalism was the dominant sociological perspective until the 1960s. It attempts to explain why and how societies are ordered and stable rather than in chaos and focuses upon the apparent consensus, which appears to exist among the members of any society. Functionalism is often explained by a comparison with biology. If a biologist wants to understand how the human body works, they may begin by examining its different parts, such as the brain, lungs, liver, etc. in order to see how they contribute to the smooth functioning of the whole body, and to the continuation of life. To do this, they would have to examine the role of the body parts in relation to each other and also in relation to overall body functioning. Thus in order to understand any part of society, such as the family, government or religion, the part must be analysed in terms of its functions in relation to other social parts or structures, and in relation to society as a whole.Functionalists are also interested in the predictability of human behaviour and emphasise the process by which society moulds the behaviour and personalities of its members. This is referred to as the process of socialisation. According to Functionalists people are socialised into norms, values and roles through their involvement in various social institutions (or agencies of socialisation) such as the family, schools and the mass media.Functionalists view family as the primary institution for Socialisation. They view the family as performing a number of important functionsMurdock (Haralambos and Holborn, 2013) points out that the family performs four key functions – sexual, reproductive, economic and educational. These are seen as ‘essential’ for society to function. Murdock description of the family is almost too good to be true. As Morgan states “Murdock nuclear family is a harmonious institution” (Haralambos and Holborn 2013). Murdock views the family as being an institution which cannot be replaced by any other, he does not accept that monogamy outside of a relationship is growing increasingly more common. He also fails to recognise that in today’s society many people economically depend on the state for financial support and to educate their children this to an extent is achieved within the family but many children today learn more s outside the family than they would within, through socialisation. Parson also views the family as being “harmonious” he supports Murdock view in a sense where he sees the family being the primary source of socialisation, Parsons summed the family up to do two “basic and irreducible functions” (Haralambos and Holborn 2013)They see reproduction as a way of improving family life and also in the way society works, Parsons argued that families are ‘factories’ which produce human personalities believing they are essential for this purpose. (Haralambos and Holborn, 2013).It is considered building blocks within the family, it starts off as the female within the home doing domestic work such as cleaning and cooking, then the female becomes pregnant and goes on to produce a work force shaping their personalities showing them that you need to work to provide for your family. Marxists, like Functionalists, adopt a structural analysis of society and believe that individual behaviour is heavily influenced, if not wholly determined, by the structure of society. However, Marxists have a much more negative view of this process than Functionalists. They believe that most societies are extremely unfair, containing vast inequalities which mean that a few benefit at the expense of the majority. Because of the way society is organized along social class lines people have conflicts of interest : what benefits one group may not benefit another. They are particularly critical of capitalism and argue that the main interest of the capitalist is to produce goods as cheaply as possible so that the markets for goods may be expanded. This drive for profit leads to the oppression of workers and to their replacement with machinery wherever possible. Workers, on the other hand, want to maximise their incomes and reduce the hours and intensity of their labour wherever possible. Marxist have similar beliefs but also believe that the use of the family is to gain an advantage in society they use reproduction to gain an advantage they see society is structured along class lines and institutions for the elite, getting better jobs and gaining more economic power in society. Karl Thompson (2014). Marxism is considered as a structural historical approach, many wealthy men and women would marry for the sole purpose of financial advantages. It teaches the children who may question the hierarchy that the present unequal system is inevitable, natural and good. Karl Thompson. (2014). They shape personalities through tradition and history, passing down property and money.Engles is the main influencer with regards to Marxist theories on the family he believes that the ruling class control society through owning the property which the working class are therefore hired to work in. Sons inheriting private property which is reinforcing a Capitalist society however a criticism would be that the working class families are ignored and they don’t own private property. New rules and regulations of the state supporting working class citizens, allows people of a working class background to own property and business’. Moreover, Marxists are very focused on conflict between the Bourgeoisie and Proletariat and how this results in a Capitalist society, they are not shown to see that people do make their own choices and are not solely controlled by Captialism. Marxism can be seen as very similar to functionalism as being outdated and growing increasingly uncommon due to the way society is evolving and due to post modernism. Also Marxists and functionalists both focus solely on nuclear families they ignore he role of growing and extended families which other perspectives at offer a view on.Feminism highlights the negative side of the family in comparison to both Functionalist and Marxist approach. It highlights structural inequality through use of the hierarchy ; for example, men being considered as the head of the household and women catering to the men and children’s needs before their own. Feminism, which developed as a distinction sociological perspective during the 1960s, is critical of sociology for ignoring the particular problems of women and feminist sociology pays particular attention to the inequalities experienced by women. The term ‘second-wave feminists is sometime used to distinguish this development from earlier attempts to gain the vote and electoral representation for women. Similar to Marxists, Feminists have been extremely critical of the family. They refer to the inequality which many women face within marriage and highlight the harmful effects that the family has had on women as well as the dominance of men within the family and society. There are three types of feminism – Liberal Feminism, Radical Feminism and Marxist Feminism. Liberal Feminism believes that the best way to approach gender inequality within the family and society is through changes to legislation, believing that the way to change men’s views on women is through the political world such as the Sex Discrimination Act (1976) and the Equal Pay Act (1984). Radical Feminism believes that modern society cannot be controlled and that the only way for women to achieve equality is to cut themselves off from men completely through Social Separatism such as Lesbianism and rejecting traditional family life. Radical Feminists believe that men are not necessary to have a family and many Radical Feminists depend solely on the advancements of Reproductive Technology. However, there is now a sensed backlash against more radical females. Although Radical Feminism has evolved greatly, it is acknowledged that the more extreme means of achieving gender equality such as campaigning and protests have now been diluted in more peaceful ways of achieving immediate goals. Engels and Zaretsky (Haralambos and Holborn, 2013) acknowledge that women are exploited in marriage and family life but they choose to emphasise the relationship between capitalism and the family instead believing that traditional relationships with nuclear families have tended to facilitate capitalism (and men). They point out that females often act as a ‘reserve army’ of labour and that housework, which is traditionally seen as ‘women’s work’ is both unpaid and undervalued. Marxists Feminists use Marxist concepts but see the exploitation of women as a key feature of family life with capitalist societies. Radical Feminism ‘sees the oppression of women as the most fundamental and universal way of domination’. Society is seen as patriarchal, or male dominated…women are held to have different interests from those of men. (Haralambos and Holborn, 2013). Feminists believe that naturally within a household men have more decision making power and are seen as the primary source of income while the women are required to stay at home to cook, clean and care for children. Wives also give moral support, ‘observing and moderating his emotions, arranging entertainment and relaxation, and supplying personal needs’. (Haralambos and Holborn, 2013).Although women do cater towards their husbands’ emotional needs there can still be frustration aimed towards the wife therefore results in domestic abuse and also emotional abuse thus highlighting the fact women become oppressed and put down greatly within the family as being seen as nothing more than a care provider and a ‘glorified counsellor’. Sociologists have different perspectives on the family and on society generally. Functionalists believe that society could not work without the family and view it as an integral part in the development of the young. They pay particular attention to the process of socialisation and the positive functions which, they argue, families perform for society. They do not consider the evolutionary changes within society, for example the state providing increasing support and benefits as being particularly harmful for families. Marxists views more critical of family structures within capitalist societies. They believe that the unequal gender relationship within families leads to the exploitation of women and that working-class women may be ‘ doubly disadvantaged’ due to their gender and class position.Feminists are real believers in gender equality and what they are working towards as a whole is a fair chance at life and fair treatment when being compared to men.